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Importance of Warming Up Before Exercise

Since a lot of people are involved in physical exercises, it is imperative that the importance of warming up before any strenuous activity should be discussed. Many have repeatedly ignored going through the warm up stage before working out, not knowing the consequences in doing so.

Why warm up? Several changes takes place in the body once physical activity is initiated. A person’s respiratory rate, blood flow, and oxygen and nutrient levels delivered to the cells increases. The rate of increase should be regulated in a steady pace to prepare the body for the physical stress that exercise will demand. If one foregoes this priming procedure, the body will function less efficiently and the workout will produce less quality results. Warming up preps up the nervous system, heightens mental awareness and alertness, and loosens up joints and muscles to make them less prone to injuries. Warm ups jump starts the fluid located in the joints, minimizing the risk for wear and tear of the muscles. It gives the heart a suitable period to adjust and pump up blood and nutrients into muscles.

This is vital for older people, since they have tissues that are less supple; they have joints with less fluid, and weaker hearts. Sudden exercise can produce heart attacks to older people.

How does a person warm up properly? Initially, it can be done in any procedure that enables the heart to beat faster. One can simply walk and jog, or if a cardiovascular equipment is available, such as rowing machine or a bicycle, it can be utilized. Start at a gentle pace, and then slowly increase the pace until heart beat rate increases and the body temperature rises. It important to note that the pace should be in accordance to one’s current fitness level, where the activity will leave the person energized and not exhausted.

After working up a light sweat (suggested time is 3-5 minutes, longer if the person is working out in a cold environment) one should do dynamic stretching. Stretching helps in developing overall flexibility, particularly in the spine, shoulder, and hip areas. The kind of stretching depends on the type of activity a person plans to engage to. For instance, if one is about to play sports, the recommended kind of stretching would be the ones that mimics the movements that will be done in the court or field. If one is about to do martial arts, light sparring can be done in the quarter of the normal speed, or just simply do the movements in slow motion. Be certain that the major muscles groups are stretched for 8 seconds minimum. It is necessary to remember to keep feet moving or do leg exercises whenever the upper body is stretched to keep prevent blood from pooling in the legs. Remember, one should only do stretching if the muscles are already warmed up. Do not bounce while stretching. It leads to a contraction that can result in muscle tear or pull.

For weight-lifters, this is what should be done after the initial warm up. Load the bar with about 50-60% of the heaviest weight to be done for the session and perform the number of repetitions that will be done for the heavy sets. For the second set, the weight will be increased to 80%, then eventually to 90%, decreasing to 2-3 repetitions. Afterwards, rest for about 30 seconds, then repeat the steps. After this warm up, one can now proceed to the heavy lifting for the day. The advantage of doing the procedure is that the heavy sets will feel less daunting and can now be performed with considerably less stress.

After warming up and proceeding to the main workout, it is equally important to cool down. When a person suddenly stops exercising or lifting weights, blood gathers in the muscle and oxygen is blocked. When this happens, a person runs the risk of having a heart attack. So cooling down should have the same importance as warming up.

Exercise is good for the health. Everyone is encouraged to pump it up, just remember to remember all the necessary precautions not only to maximize the workout, but also to stay safe and healthy.

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