Find out about the value of warm-up and cool down exercises for your overall fitness. We’ve also provided some useful exercises to try during your next gym session.
Warming up before you work out and cooling down after intense exercise is essential to keep your body healthy. But we all know that having a crazy busy life means that we often cut corners when it comes to doing these.
Here at One55 Health & Fitness, we want to do our best to make sure you’re well looked after and enjoying your time as a Fitness Club member. With that in mind, this blog will give you the low down on the value of warm-up and cool down exercises for your overall fitness, as well as provide some useful exercises to try during your next gym session.
Why skipping a warm-up or cool down session can be harmful for your health
In a nutshell, not doing so can increase risk of injury during your workout routine and also minimise the quality of your athletic performance, notes Mayo Clinic.
“A warm-up gradually revs up your cardiovascular system, increases blood flow to your muscles and raises your body temperature. Warming up may also help reduce muscle soreness and lessen your risk of injury. Cooling down after your workout allows for a gradual recovery of heart rate and blood pressure,” wrote staff from Mayo Clinic.
What’s more, a study from the British Medical Journal found that warming up can prevent nearly half of all severe sports injuries. Participants in this study included 1,892 female footballers from Norway, and the results suggested that a warm-up routine focusing on improving strength, core stability, balance and muscular awareness reduced injury in female footballers by a third, and better still, cut down severe injuries by almost a half.
Want to make the news even sweeter? Another study by the University of Calgary found that you only need a short warm-up, in which several brief bouts of high-intensity exercise are enough to get optimum results. Anywhere between 10 and 15 minutes will suffice.
“What we found, was that the shorter warm-up resulted in significantly less muscle fatigue and a peak power output that was 6.2 per cent higher. This represents a substantial improvement for an elite athlete,” said Elias Tomaras, a researcher on the study.
So, how can you make the most of this time? Check out the fun exercises below!
Warm up with…
1) Foam rolling
Muscle and Fitness notes that foam rolling removes any knots or trigger points that build up in our bodies, making it an ideal warm-up before hitting the treadmill or weights.
2) Skipping rope
A fun way to get your heart pumping, do reps of twenty skips both with front and back jumps. This sets up your cardiovascular functions for the rest of the work out.
3) High knee skips
If gym equipment such as skipping ropes and foam rollers are currently in use by others, this is a great way to warm-up. Just stand in a secluded spot and jog, trying to get your knees to go high enough to make contact with your chest. According to Muscle and Fitness, this warm-up is particularly good for extension in your hips and knees, as well as useful for improving arm movements while sprinting.
Cool down with…
1) Lying trunk-twist stretches
Hit the comfy floor mats to slow down your breathing as you stretch and tone your muscles. For this stretch, lie on your back and put your hands out horizontally on the floor to your left and right. Extend your legs up into the air at 90 degrees, and then slowly rotate your trunk so your legs swing towards each arm.
2) Downward Dog
Embrace your flexibility and inner Pilates guru as you put both feet and palms on the floor, but extend your body into a V-shape to stretch it out. For added stretching, swing and touch each palm to the opposite foot.
3) Cat stretch
Sit down on the mat on your hands and knees, then slowly swing your buttocks down onto your heels and stretch out your forearms, placing your head between the upper arms.
Go ahead and try these next time before and after your workout!