Warm Up Exercise - Get Ready for Action With An Exercise Warm Up
Why are exercises to warm up so important?
It's better for body and mind if you prepare yourself before you launch into an exercise session. Warming up:
Warm Up Exercise: Before Aerobic Exercise
The best preparation for a cardiovascular session is a gentle bout of the same activity that you're about to perform.
Make the warm up gradual and progressive. If you're going for a run or using the treadmill, start at a walking pace for a minute or two, then gradually increase the pace to a gentle jog before upping the tempo to running.
Before doing part of your aerobic exercise program, start with marching on the spot, followed by a couple of circuits of gentle jogging or some light aerobic moves from your usual routine. Then you can start on the more strenuous exercises.
How long should your warm up exercises last? About 5-10 minutes is fine, less if you're already warm or are planning a lighter session, more if the day is cold or you want to do a vigorous workout.
Warm Up Exercise: Before Strength Training
You can use the aerobic warm up before a session of strength training exercises, or you can prepare each group of muscles by using lighter weights for one set of repetitions before moving on to a heavier weight.
Warm Up Exercise: Stretching
By all means include a few stretches as part of your warm up routine, but take care, as you can injure yourself by stretching cold muscles. You'll get the most benefit if you do your stretches after your exercise, as part of an exercise cool down.
Doing a cool down is just as vital as warming up properly, and doesn't have to take long. Always fit in a sequence of stretches to help reduce stiffness, maintain and improve flexibility and keep your muscles in good trim so you're less likely to suffer an injury.
For a complete guide to suitable stretching exercises, see this Library of Stretches. When you stretch, focus particularly on the muscles you've just worked and any muscles that feel sore or tender.
Make sure you include warm up exercise and cool down stretches every time you workout.
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Take care when you exercise - follow these tips for exercise safety.
- Wear the right clothing, and choose footwear that supports foot and ankle and cushions impact.
- Start any new exercise regime slowly, do only as much as you can manage easily and build up gradually.
- Take special care if you have an existing condition such as cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis, or arthritis. Always seek medical advice before exercising.
- Have a fitness check at the gym when you join.
- Ensure any instructor is properly qualified and the class is at the right level for you. Never join a class where everyone is younger and fitter than you are. Be realistic about your abilities and you'll enjoy your exercise much more.
- Make sure you have enough space to move freely and that the flooring is non-slip.
- Do your warm up exercise (see left) before starting, and always cool down at the end of the session.
- If you take a break from exercise, re-start at a lower level and build up again slowly.
- Avoid overly long or strenuous workouts. Take it easier if the weather's hot, and don't exercise if you're feeling unwell.
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