Importance of Warming Up Before Exercising

Physical activities and exercises are very important for the wellness of your body. If you're working on a desk for longer hours in the weekdays, you might want to visit the gym or jog on the weekends. While many people are getting involved in physical exercises, it is important to have yourself warmed up before any strenuous activity. Lots of people have ignored this stage before working out, not knowing the consequences in doing so.

Warming up

Why Warm Up?
In every physical activity, several changes take place in the body - the respiratory rate, oxygen level and nutrient level delivered to the cells, and blood flow suddenly increases. If the rate of increase is not regulated when undergoing a physical stress, the body will function less effectively and the workout will not produce quality results. In fact, the person's risk of having injuries after the physical activity increases if done without the warm up procedure. 

If you warm up, you're actually prepping up your nervous system - heightens your mental awareness and alertness, and loosen up your joints and muscle fibers to make them less prone to injuries. Warm ups energize the fluid in your joints that minimizes the risk for wear and tear in the muscles. On top of that, it gives the heart some time to adjust and pump up blood and nutrients into the muscles - this is very important for older people since they have weaker hearts that might produce heart attacks. Warm ups are also very important to the elderly since they have less supple tissues and their joints have lesser fluids. 

Warming Up Properly
If you search on the web, you can find lots of ways to warm up. You might even see something that's perfect for your routine. Well, how does a person warm up properly? 

It can be done in any way that enables the heart to beat faster. You can simply walk or jog, or warm up using a rowing machine or a stationary bicycle - these are very popular cardiovascular equipments. You have to start at a gentle pace and gradually increase the pace until your heartbeat and body temperature increases. Take note that you have to do it in accordance to your fitness level - you have to make sure that you get energized from it, not exhausted!

For weight lifters, this procedure must be done after the initial warm up:

■ Load the bar about 50%-60% of the heaviest weight to be lifted for the session and perform the number of repetitions that will be done for the heavy sets.

■ Increase the weight at about 80% in the second set, then set it to 90% with decreasing repetitions. 
■ Afterwards, rest for 30 seconds and repeat the steps again.  

After this warm up, you can now proceed to the main workout. The benefits of doing this procedure is that the heavy sets will feel less daunting and you can perform it with lesser stress.

Once you have worked up a light sweat (3-5 minutes, it might take longer if you are in a colder environment), you have to do some stretching. It helps a lot in developing overall flexibility - specifically in the shoulder, spine, and hip areas. The stretching procedure actually depends on the type of physical activity that you're about to engage to. If you are going to play sports, the best type of stretching would be the ones that mimic the movements that will be done on the field of court. If the activity is related to martial arts, light sparring can be done at a slower pace. 

Make sure that the major muscle groups are stretched at least 8 seconds. It is also important that you move your feet when your upper body is stretched to avoid blood pooling in your legs. Always remember that stretching is done once the muscles are already warmed up. Avoid bouncing while stretching to prevent muscle contractions.  

Cooling Down
After the warm up and the main workout, it is also important to cool down. When someone suddenly stops exercising, lifting weights, or doing physical activity, blood gathers in the muscles and oxygen is blocked - this runs the risk of having a heart attack. Thus, cooling down is just as important as warming up.

It’s really great to exercise to flush out toxins in your body and feel energized after the long week of work. It's great for your health but you have to remember all the necessary precautions to maximize your workout and avoid injuries. 

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