Exercise Warm Ups
The exercise warm-up period serves as a safe transition from a resting state to an active state. It helps your body prepare itself for exercise both mentally and physically, and reduces the chance of injury.
Participating in a variety of easy exercise and dynamic stretching provides your body with a cardiovascular and thermal muscle warm-up.
Working muscles burn calories to produce heat, as a result
the average person will burn between 50 and 150 calories
just during the warm up. It takes the body approximately 3 minutes to realize it needs to pump more blood to your muscles so warm ups should last approximately 5 – 10 minutes.
During this time the temperature of muscle tissue raises enough to produce light sweating and breathing will become more laboured, but not as hard as during the actual exercise.
Older exercisers, beginners, overweight individuals, pregnant women or persons with cardiac problems may need a more gradual 15-minute warm-up for a safe transition to more intense exercise. It is also a good idea to spend a little more time warming-up on a cold day.
A warm up can just be doing the same thing you are planning on doing, but just at a reduced intensity. Like a walk before you jog, or jogging before going into a run. Or it can be a completely different exercise, for instance, marching or jogging in place, the stationary bike, light stair climbing, or rowing.
Generally a warm-up is any light, continuous movement that uses the large muscle groups. Whatever warm-up you choose, you should expect a small amount of sweat and an increase in your heart rate and breathing. Provided you involve the muscles you are about to use, it is considered a proper warm up.
When strength training, in addition to a good warm up, its a good idea to do some light weight sets first so your muscles know whats coming.
By gradually increasing your heart rate your circulatory system carries more oxygen and nutrients to your muscles allowing the muscles to use glucose and fatty acids to burn calories and create energy for a higher intensity exercise.
Motor skills improve at higher temperatures because nerve impulses travel faster and you can move warmed up muscles faster and generate force more effectively than cold muscles. Cold muscle does not absorb impact very well but as the muscle warms the muscle tissue becomes more pliable making it easier to move and stretch.
During a warm-up you get your juices flowing, the body distributes lubrication around joints for easier movement and adjusts the levels of hormones and enzymes behind the energy produced. This helps lower your risk of injury and assists in increasing your range of motion around the joints.
It is also during this phase of exercise that you may discover an unknown injury or illness and consequently further injury can be prevented.
A proper warm up should be done before any exercise session or physical activity. It is an important component whether participating in a structured cardio or strength-training workout at the gym, painting the living room or pulling weeds in the garden.
Warming up gradually increases blood flow to the heart muscle potentially decreasing the risk of abnormal heart activity associated with sudden, intense exercise, like shoveling snow or running to the plate in a weekend game of slow pitch.
Perform a light static or dynamic stretching routine at the end of your warm up by stretching each of the muscle groups you will be using in your chosen activity. A stretch is held from 10 to 30 seconds. Sometimes if you are really tight start with ten then stretch again and try 20 and up to 30. Don’t pull for pain but to feel a nice stretch. Don’t force it, rather ease into it by slowly stretching the muscle a little more over the 30 seconds or by holding the stretch in increasing increments of time.
Bouncing while stretching is no longer recommended and when stretching during your warmup keep the ‘static’ stretching to a minimum and use more ‘dynamic’ so you don’t cool down your muscles and lower your heart rate. It is better to keep most of your static stretching for after your exercise session, that is, after your cool-down.
Click here for some seated Warmup Exercises