Everyone hears that it’s beneficial to engage in a proper warm up and cool down in regard to their exercise program.
However, do you know why this is the case?
While both practices can certainly serve to add a sense of pleasure to your workouts in the form of creating enthusiasm about your upcoming activities and then establishing a sense of relaxation afterward, the truth is…the act of warming up and cooling down can not only help to prevent unnecessary injury, but can also save your life.
This is why.
A proper warm up not only prepares you mentally for your fitness routine, but it also serves to prepare your heart, joints and muscles for the upcoming stress that occurs with exercise.
Lack of doing this can result in sprains, strains and pulled muscles. These are just a few of the possible injuries that can occur. In the same way you would warm up your car before driving it if it sat in freezing temperatures to avoid blowing the engine, the same philosophy goes for your body.
While the act of cooling down from your workout may serve to help bring a sense of relaxation and closure following exercise, the truth is that lack of doing so can, and has resulted in fatality.
The reason is because of something called “blood pooling.”
Blood pooling can occur if you suddenly stop in the middle of an exercise routine without cooling down. This is due to lack of skeletal muscle tissue helping to bring the blood back to the heart, causing the blood to pool in the lower extremities of the body.
Lightheadedness, fainting and sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can occur as a result. In fact, there are documented cases of this happening when a person has stopped exercising and stood still without engaging in a proper cool down.
The amount of time to dedicate to warming up and cooling down can range anywhere from 5-10 minutes. To implement a proper warm up, simply mimic the activity you’re about to participate in using a lower intensity as you work your way up to a higher intensity naturally and safely.
To cool down, allow for a decrease in intensity as you bring your heart rate back to normal.
These two practices can not only keep you from getting injured, but can save your life!