Exercise is a great way to combat stress, lose weight and boost your energy. To get the most from your workout, it is important that you add warming up, cooling down and stretching to your exercise routine. These three simple steps are proven to prevent painful and costly injuries later.
Warming up allows your body time to adjust from rest to activity. It increases blood flow to the muscles so they stretch easily, reducing the risk of muscle tears. It also lubricates joints and carries oxygen to the heart.
To effectively warm up:
• Use movements that are similar to those you will use in your workout, such as light calisthenics, walking, jogging, etc.
• Gradually increase the intensity of your warm-up.
• Don’t overdo it! Your warm-up should be about 15 minutes and intense enough to cause a light sweat.
As with warming up, cooling down should include movements similar to those in your workout, but at a gradually decreasing level of intensity.
After cooling down, stretching helps to build flexibility and range of motion. When stretching:
• Use gentle and fluid movements and breathe normally.
• Work specific parts of your body, maintaining each stretch for 20 to 60 seconds.
• Never force a joint beyond its normal range of motion; you should not feel any pain.
Workout Healthy Hints
Many muscle and bone injuries are the result of skipping a warm-up and cool-down before and after exercise. Remember, preventing an injury is easier, cheaper and less painful than trying to recover from one.