Tip of the Day: Warming Up Before Exercising

Many people wonder why they should warm up before working out and the reasons why it is so important for their bodies. Sometimes when people do not know the reasons behind warming up and what it does for you they will skip it and that is never good!  When you take a group fitness class like our Les Mills Body Combat, Pump, Attack, Step or any of our other classes you always start out a little slow. Lighter weights on the bar, slower less intense moves and stretching are what normally is done in these classes and with our personal trainers.  You do these warm-up exercises without even thinking, just because they are part of the routine. Well this is what warming-up before working out can do for you and why you should never skip it!

Warming up before any physical activity is very beneficial to your body, but its main purpose is to prepare the body and mind for more demanding activity. It also is important to warm-up to help avoid the injuries and aches and pains that can come with exercising. This is why you start out slow with easy low impact exercises and stretching.
An effective warm up helps in raising both your heart rate and your respiratory rate. Doing this increases blood flow, which boosts the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the muscles that are being worked. By increasing your muscle’s temperature you’re helping to make the muscles loose, flexible and pliable. If the warm-up is completed correctly it allows the body to perform at its peak performing ability at the current time.

It’s important to start with the easiest and most gentle activity first, building upon each part with more demanding activities until the body is at its physical and mental peak. This is the state in which the body is most prepared for the physical activity that you will be doing and where the possibility of sports injury has been reduced as much as possible.

Now don’t make the mistake of thinking that doing a few stretches amounts to a warm up. Doing a quick stretch of some of the muscles you will be using doesn’t do your body any good. An effective warm up has a number of very important elements, including stretching and exercises that will increase your heart rate.

A simple warm-up that will work for most people is to start out with a callisthenic exercise like jumping jacks, which works your shoulders, back, thighs and calves; a couple sets of those at your level will start to increase your heart rate. If jumping jacks aren’t your thing, you can do some lunges, marching on the spot, dancing or another type of callisthenic exercise. Make sure you always start slowly and gradually increase your intensity. You can also use a stationary bike, treadmill or an elliptical machine for about 5-10 minutes afterwards to increase your heart rate. You should start to feel warmer and be sweating lightly after about 5-10 minutes. Stretching is next after warming up and easing your body into exercising.

Increasing your heart rate should be followed by a few minutes of easy stretches to increase blood flow to the muscles, which will help improve their flexibility and preventing injury or soreness. Make sure to stretch the muscles you were using in your warm-up and the ones you will be using in your exercise. Warming up and stretching muscles you don’t plan on using doesn’t do you any good.

Another thing you may be asking is what is the length of the warm up. If you are someone who is just starting out working out, haven’t worked out in awhile or if you’re out of shape in general your warm-up should be longer. If you are someone who consistently works out on a daily bases or multiple times a week you can shorten your warm-up. Your warm-up length all depends on your level of fitness.

I hope this helped some of you with why warming-up is so important when you are working out and how you should going about doing it! I hope everyone liked the first Tip of the Day!!

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