Some days, it’s hard enough to just get yourself to the gym and once you’re there, maybe you feel like you just want to get it over with as quickly as possible. With tight schedules and constant distractions, there’s always the temptation to get straight to the machines so you can get back to your other obligations. However, doing warm-up exercises before getting to your workout is essential to a good workout and even makes your exercise routine more enjoyable. Here are just a few reasons why.
Warm-up exercises prepare your entire body to get ready for rigorous exercises–this includes your brain. The American College of Sports Medicine likens warming up to driving your car onto a highway on-ramp. The on-ramp helps you get your car up to the right speed with enough time, which prevents accidents. When you warm up, you’re getting your body up to speed with where it should be when you start doing exercises. This prevents accidents and injuries just the same as that on-ramp. Here are just a few things that happen to your body when you warm up before exercising:
As blood travels through your muscles, it increases in temperature. This increase signals your body to make more oxygen available, improving your endurance.
During warm-up exercises, your whole body temperature increases–particularly your muscles. This improves muscle elasticity along with speed and strength.
Your large joints, like shoulders and knees, loosen up. This helps increase performance and prevents injury.
Your blood vessels become larger, increasing blood and decreasing strain on your heart.
The body’s temperature regulation system is like a thermostat–it takes a little bit of time to adjust. Warm-up exercises help your body activate your sweat glands and other means of dissipating heat, helping you to cool down more efficiently. For aerobic activities, like running and bicycling, this can be a serious game changer.
Cortisol and epinephrine are two of the key energy-regulating hormones in your body. During warm-up, your body will balance these hormones to make fatty acids and carbs available for energy use. An increase in epinephrine also improves your overall state of happiness.
Warm-up exercises are a great time to transition into your workout. They help clear your mind, get ready, and focus on what’s ahead. It gives you a moment to review your skills you may want to work on when your exercising or it can provide an opportunity to strategize before a fitness competition. It helps you improve your concentration, which allows you to have a more meaningful workout.
Your warm-up doesn’t have to be too long or too complicated. Keep it simple, short, and effective–focusing on getting your heart rate, muscle temperature, and range of motion up. The following are the most important things to remember:
Over the last few years, research has proven that static stretching before a workout actually does more harm than good. Static stretching strains and tears at cold muscles, increasing the potential for injury. Instead, look to dynamic stretches like big arm circles, kicking your legs out, and jumping jacks.
Having someone help you stretch can take your warm-up to the next level. Your partner can help you with deeper and more effective stretches that will further improve your performance and decrease your likelihood of injury. One great stretch to try together is the partner hamstring stretch. This stretch will greatly improve the range of motion in your legs. Partner stretches often challenge you to do deeper stretches, as you are trying to keep up with another person’s abilities as well as your own.
Take a moment and get into the “zone.” This means shutting off all the outside distractions and getting ready for whatever type of workout or competition you have ahead. Preparing your mind will have many different physical and psychological benefits in improving your workout.
Whether you’re a high-performance athlete or just looking to get into good shape, warm-up exercises are crucial to any workout experience. They improve your performance, prevent injury, and help you have the focus you need to have a perfect workout experience. If you’re not sure how to get a good warm-up exercise routine going, check out Stretch Station in San Diego. They can assist you with formulating the best warm-up routine available for you and your physical goals
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