The Importance of Warmups and Cooldowns

skipping rope with caption "The Importance of Warmups and Cooldowns"

Why is it important to warm up and cool down?

Warming up and cooling down can seem like a waste of time to many people. You have to take up additional time other than your “conditioning/workout” phase and if you don’t know why then it can seem like a waste. Below I have detailed why the warm up and cool down is so important so you know why you need to do it!

Warm Up Purpose and Benefits

The general purpose of the warm-up is to prepare the body and mind for the more intense physical activity to follow. What are some of the benefits of doing a warm up? When you do a good warm up your body temperature elevates. Your ability to exercise improves with an elevated body temperature. Warming up also increases blood flow, which then increases the supply of oxygen and nutrients to your exercising muscles. Why is this important? It makes them more effective and removes “waste” products produced by exercising such as lactic acid. Have you ever felt sick during a workout? That’s quite possibly because you haven’t been able to expel the lactic acid produced quickly enough.  Long story short – warming up makes everything work better and will reduce your risk of injury.

Warm Up Guidelines

There are many ways to warm up your body and almost every trainer will have different movements that they do. I have put the basic criteria of what your warm up should include.

Raise – Raise your heart rate, body temperature, breathing and blood flow. For example - Star Jumps, Shuttle Runs, High Knees, Skipping

Activate & Mobilise – Most people have some form of “underactive” muscle group or might need help to mobilise certain joints. During your warm up is a good time to activate and mobilise these areas. For example - Stretching specific problem areas, Glute Activation exercises.

Potentiation – This basically means raising the intensity of the warm up to what you’ll be performing in your work out. This may include warm up sets of specific exercises but basically you just need to make sure the body is ready to move on to the “conditioning/workout” stage. 

Cool Down Purpose and Benefits

We cool down so that we can return the body and mind to a resting or pre-exercise state. We cool down so our body can gradually get to this resting stage. As we gradually reduce our heart rate and breathing our body will begin to slow down too. By cooling down we reduce the risk of after exercise nausea or dizziness as it promotes the removal of lactic acid in the body.

Cool Down Guidelines

Again, everyone will cool down differently and you need to find what works for you but below are some guidelines you can follow.

Gradually Reduce Intensity – You don’t want to do hard out to nothing, this can make us feel lethargic so you want to gradually decrease your intensity. Adding some low intensity cardio such as a walk (even for just a few minutes) will help your body adjust to its new state.

Static Stretching – Although stretching for up to 30 seconds for each stretch after your workout isn’t going to improve your flexibility dramatically, it will help reduce tension & help you to relax! Stretching is usually everyone’s favourite part of the workout!      

 

There you have it! That’s why you should do a warm up and cool down. Got any further questions? Comment below and I’ll see if I can help!

 

Until next time!

Britt