Warming up before engaging in physical exercise is often overlooked or skipped altogether, especially when we're short of time. However, taking a few minutes to warm up can significantly reduce the risk of getting injured and can improve performance.
Warming up becomes even more crucial if you've been sitting for a long period of time or during colder weather, when the muscles tend to be stiffer and less pliable. By engaging in a proper warmup routine, you can prepare your body for safe exercise and optimise your performance.
The primary objective of a warmup is to increase blood flow throughout the body and raise your body temperature, which in turn helps to loosen the muscles and reduce risk of injury.
Warming up offers other important benefits too. It enhances joint mobility and flexibility, allowing for a wider range of motion during exercise. This increased flexibility can lead to improved performance and efficiency in movements, maximising the benefits of the workout.
A proper warmup also prepares your cardiovascular system for working out. Gradually increasing your heart rate and oxygen supply to the muscles creates a smoother transition from rest to exercise, reducing the stress on your heart.
An effective warmup should involve a few minutes of active movements that increases your heart rate and engages the muscles that will be used during your activity.
For instance, runners can benefit from a light jog as it gradually elevates the heart rate, increases blood circulation, and warms up the leg muscles. If you’re going for a swim, doing some basic body rotations, such as arm circles and shoulder rolls, will help to loosen up your upper body muscles.
Notably a warmup should not include static stretches (where you hold a stretch for a number of seconds without moving), as you need to be warmed up to do these in order to prevent injury.
For people who are really focusing on their performance, warming up also prepares your mind for a workout.
It provides an opportunity to focus and mentally prepare for the physical exertion, enhancing concentration and coordination, which can lead to improved technique and performance.
Cold muscles are less flexible and more prone to injury so failing to warm up before exercise increases the risk of muscle strains and injuries.
A good warmup also increases your heart rate and blood flow, helping to deliver oxygen and nutrients to working muscles. This also helps to reduce potential fatigue.
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