New year resolutions we see a trend in individuals making lifestyle changes and these include, starting an exercise program, in this article by Kitty an Accredited Exercise Physiologist, we look at the importance of a warm up and cool down.
Warming up is a physiological sense whereby there is an increased blood flow to the muscles that are to be engaged in exercise. This helps create nerve impulses that allow for faster communication between neurotransmitters, these changes allow muscles to move quickly and efficiently and help connect the brain with relevant motor patterns priming the body for exercise. The warm up also prepares the body for activity as well as injury prevention for muscles that are more susceptible for injury when cold.
A good way to start a warm up is to utilise dynamic warm ups, this will help your body feel a billion times better. An example of a dynamic warm up for running for instance can be a slow walk, followed by a jog, high knees, and walking hamstring stretches and hip openers.
Once your activity is over whether it be running or weight training, cooling down is beneficial for speeding up recovery as during prolonged, vigorous exercise, blood vessels in the legs expand, meaning that more blood moves through them, it is an important step to helping the body clear lactate and other waste, whilst loosening tight muscles.
A slow walk followed by some dynamic/static stretching can do this. Some static stretching you can do is hamstring stretches, followed by hip and glute stretches if you have just done a long run.
If you are time poor even spending a good 5 minutes post workout to cool down is beneficial, as it will help aid in recovery and also circulate blood and oxygen to muscles.