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Workout essentials: Warm-up and cool-down time

Aug. 30, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

When time is tight and you have to squeeze in a workout, the first portions that usually get omitted are your warm-up or cool-down, but both are essential to a good workout.

Follow these tips from Life Fitness and learn to efficiently incorporate warm-ups and cool-downs into your regular exercise.

Always warm up before you exercise. A warm-up doesn't necessarily mean stretching (save that for after), it means a lower intensity version of the physical activity you are about to do. The greater your intensity, the longer the warm-up should be. A good indication of an adequate warm-up is a light sweat.

Warm-ups

Help get your blood circulating and lubricate your joints

Increase delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which prevents you from getting out of breath early or too easily

Prepare your heart for activity, helping you to avoid a rapid increase in blood pressure

Always cool down after you exercise. A proper cool-down will help your heart rate gradually return to normal and lengthen the muscles to prevent injury.

The first part of a good cool-down is gradually slowing your intensity for several minutes. The second part is stretching. The best time to stretch is right after your initial slow-down since your muscles are still warm and are more likely to react favorably. Try holding stretches for at least 20 seconds.

Cool-downs

Help your heart rate and breathing return to normal at a gradual pace

Help avoid fainting or dizziness, which can result from blood pooling in the large muscles of the legs when vigorous activity is stopped suddenly

Reduce the immediate post-exercise tendency for muscle spasm, cramping and stiffness

With the numerous body benefits to warming up and cooling down, make sure you add both to your scheduled workouts.

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