Why Warm Up Before Exercise?
A warm up might seem like a nonessential time suck added onto a workout you’re barely squeezing into your schedule as it is but warming up is crucial to getting fit. Even a 10 minute warm up can provide all of these amazing benefits:
- Prepares your mind/body for more strenuous activity – Warming up signals to your mind and body that something intense is about to come.
- Increases muscle temperature – Warm muscles are able to do a wider variety of movements without risking injury, so this is absolutely essential
- Loosens muscles – Again, loose muscles are much less likely to get injured
- Gets your heart rate up – This prepares you for exercise, especially cardio exercise
- Increases blood flow – Increased blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients are getting to your lungs which means that you can work out longer and more effectively
In short, warming up makes exercise easier and injuries less likely—and you can get all of these benefits within 10 minutes.
Creating an effective warm up
Your warm up should start with minimal stress activities like a leisurely walk and work its way up into more stressful activities such as a brisk walk. By the end you want to have your heart rate up and your body sweating.
Sport-specific warm ups
Sports and certain other fitness activities like dance have their own specialized warm ups. In this case your warm up depends on your sport. Runners may do some light jogging in place. Baseball players may play catch or practice throwing a bouncy ball at a nearby wall. Whatever you do, it’s important that you’re practicing the same movements you’ll actually do during the activity. You also need to remember to ramp up the intensity as you go.
High intensity warm ups
The average person will do just fine with their general warmup and/or sport-specific warm up but if you’re really intense about training you might want an intense warm up. These warm ups don’t necessarily have to involve different exercises but they do have to go on longer and reach a higher level of intensity.
Getting the most out of your warm up
Your warmup should actually be the first thing you do when preparing for a workout, before you start stretching. This is because your muscles will stretch further and relax more easily when you’ve completed your warmup. Stretching first when your muscles are cold can actually lead to injury. This is why you need to do a quick warm up even before starting an activity like yoga.
As your fitness level grows you can also make your warmup more intense to get more out of it or shake it up by trying out warmup routines suggested by fitness trainers (you can find tons of suggestions online).
It might be tough to carve out another 10 minutes but once you’ve added warming up to your routine you’ll quickly realize how much better you feel after workouts.