Health & Fitness

Warm Up, Cool Down

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When it comes to working out it’s not just about the workout session. You have to ensure you warm up before your workout and cool down after. Believe me; I really know the difference between skipping warm up and including a warm up.

Warming up

You must prepare your body before doing any physical training, sports competition or vigorous physical workout. Warming up may help prevent injuries and maximise your overall performance.

The warm-up increases the body’s inner temperature and the heart rate, so that more oxygen-rich blood can be pumped through the muscles. The chance of getting injured is reduced when the heart, ligaments, muscles and tendons are prepared and vice versa the risk of injury increases pointlessly when you don’t warm-up.

A warm-up should include some running on the spot or slow jogging and stretching. Ideally you want all the major muscle groups involved in the warm-up and pay specific attention to warming-up the parts of the body that will become the focus to the most stress during your activity.

After stretching all your main muscle groups, for example a major league baseball pitcher prepares to play by throwing baseballs at increasing velocity. The last few warm-ups are at game speed to get him ready for the game which will follow.

A warm-up should last five to seven minutes and should happen before your activity or muscular endurance. The warm-up effect won’t last more than five minutes or so. If you get delayed before your workout or activity begins and it exceeds five minutes then perform at least one or more mini-warm-ups before you start.

After a proper warm-up, your body is now prepared for a more intense conditioning activity.

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Cooling down

You should cool down properly after each exercise, regardless of the type of workout. Even after swimming, you need a cool down. The cool down slowly slows down the heart rate and helps prevent pooling of the blood in the legs and feet. When you stop working out/exercising, the force that pushes the blood back to the heart, stops too. So instead, your blood stays in the muscles which can cause swelling. This is called pooling. I have been exercising a few years now and I never used to cool down which was bad. I used to feel tense and stiff a few hours later or the next day but now I ensure I have time to cool down and make sure my heart rate is back to normal.

When you exercise, the muscle pushes blood through the veins. This helps the blood to the heart. After you finish exercising, however, the muscles relax and stop doing this and the blood can gather in the legs and feet. This can then cause a person to faint. A decent cool-down will help avoid this.

During the warm-up you precisely engaged the muscle groups that you would be using throughout your workout. You don’t have to engage the same muscle groups again for the cooling down. For a proper cool down, you can walk while stretching until your heart rate returns to less than 100 beats per minute (BPM) and the heavy sweating stops. This usually occurs five to seven minutes after the end of your workout.

If you want to check your BPM, you can use the radial artery on your wrist (above the base of the thumb), a carotid artery which is on your neck (right near your Adam’s apple), or by putting your hand over your heart. Count the beats for 10 seconds and multiple by 6 to get BPM.

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