For exercise lovers like me, it is often tempting to skip the warm-up session and dive right into the core cardio workouts to presumably make the best use of our time at the gym. Only recently I learned that this not the best thing to do for our body.
Samantha Stosur, an Australian athlete and frequent contributor to Edugeeksclub, states, “Flexibility is crucial to my fitness. Incorporating a good warm-up and cool-down into every session decreases my chances of injury. I use both dynamic and static stretching in my training.”
By skipping the warm-up, we deprive ourselves of some great health benefits that I didn’t know we could get from something so simple and quick. Let’s take a spin at some of these.
Increase in Blood Flow
Warm-ups serve the purpose of gently preparing our body for a workout session by gradually dilating our blood vessels to bring up the heart rate and increase blood circulation. This is turn reduces stress on the heart. It is crucial for the muscles to have sufficient flow of blood prior to the strenuous phases of exercise, in order to prevent injuries or strains. Increased blood flow also enhances body metabolism, which results in more long-lasting effects of the workout, even while our body is at rest for the rest of the day.
Increase in Body Temperature
Warm-up also raises the temperature of the muscles to attune them for optimal flexibility. Adding flexibility means improving our ability to move around and twist the muscles as we exercise, without causing muscle tension or awkward pains. When we start exercising, muscle temperature rapidly increases within the first couple of minutes and reaches a plateau after 10-20 minutes. If we skip the warm-up, the abrupt motion might cause muscle pulls, impair the remaining workout session, and even cause muscle soreness after the session is completed. Once the muscles are warm, spending a few minutes on stretching in a standing position is a good idea.
Increased muscle elasticity
The increased muscle temperature improves muscle elasticity by reducing the resistance of connective tissue, thus allowing muscles to stretch and contract smoothly. This eases out a range of motions around the joints and makes the exercise experience less painful. In other words, muscle lubrication and mobility are increased. Thus by spending a few minutes of stretching the muscles, we can actually speed up the rest of the exercise session by bringing the muscles into the flow.
Increased Oxygen Uptake
Along with increased blood flow, our muscles also need higher volumes of oxygen during exercise. Hence it is vital to make extra oxygen available. When we warm-up, our blood releases oxygen more readily as the heart rate is increased, creating a more exercise-friendly environment in the body.
Increased transmission of nerve impulses
As we warm-up, the transmission of nerve impulses becomes faster, which means we become more alert. It’s just like having a cup of coffee before starting some heavy and exhausting mental activity, such as shortlisting candidates from a list of 700 for an open position in your company or preparing a full-fledged marketing campaign for a firm. Imagine you just woke up from slumber and are asked to jog around a mile. Wouldn’t you end up bumping into things in your way? That’s because when we just wake up from a nap, transmission of our nerve impulses is still slow and gets to its normal speed gradually.
Intensified Willingness to Exercise
Even if we find warming up very boring, when we get used to it, we realize that it actually makes you feel better and more motivated to complete your workout session. It gives us that extra boost to maintain our exercising routine, rather than giving up on it after spending a few days at the gym. We’ll feel like our willingness to and pleasure in exercise is intensified.
Optimized ability to perform
With the body all set for a strenuous workout, we’ll be able to perform at our body’s maximum potential. In the short-term, it makes us feel good during exercise; and in the long run, the higher metabolism rate and better health make us feel good throughout the day. We will be able to maintain our exercise regimes due to this optimized performance in the first few sessions.
There is no standard formula or “one-size-fits-all” strategy for warm-ups. Every individual’s body and metabolism are different. I just want to provide some tips on how to conduct a quick and effective warm-up before starting your aerobics, cardio or weight training exercise session.
After all, the sole purpose of exercising is to increase the fitness and health of our body, so why not avoid things that counteract the same? If we can exercise for two hours in ways that we enjoy, why not spend 4-5 minutes, in the beginning, to prepare our body in making the session more effective?
Jack White is a blogger and professional writer, writing articles on a range of subjects including health and fitness industry, with more than 5 years of experience making numerous contributions to the Aussie Writings. His articles are well sought after in different parts of the world by both men and women. He gets his inspiration from his healthy eating habits, regular exercise regimes and a passion for sharing his experiences with the world.