Before starting any exercise to lose weight you need to warm the body up thoroughly. There are three reasons for this:
- reduce the chance of injuries
- increase blood flow to the working muscles and boost activity of neuromuscular pathways allowing them to be fully prepared for exercise
- enable your joints to move more freely and prepare them for any stressful impacts
Examples on how to warm up muscles before exercising:
- Slowly jog on the spot or walk for a few minutes.
- Rotate your joints slowly before performing the exercise.
- Do some slow, static stretching of the muscles to be used during the exercise.
- Do the activity you intend to perform, but complete it slowly with a lower intensity level.
Completing the warm-up examples above can help prepare the muscles for exercise in positive ways. They prepare the neuromuscular pathways that innervate the muscles. They help increase blood flow to the muscles and tendons. They increase the joint’s range of motion, and boost the speed of muscular contractions.
A good warm up can help limit any discomfort or anxiety associated with long exercise sessions. It also enables the energy system to be “revved up” and “activated” to keep up with the pace of energy requirements.
- Warm up with 10 minutes aerobic work.
- Start a warm-up session by performing the same exercise as the intended aerobic or cardio workout.
- if you intend to jog for 20 minutes then walk for 3 minutes
- walk briskly for a further 3 minutes
- then do a few minutes very light jogging
- Breath easy at first and then gradually build up the intensity over the duration.
- Keep in mind that this is a warm up so you shouldn’t be breathing hard after the 10 minutes.
- At the end of the first 10 minutes you should be breathing deeper but still fairly easy, with a feeling that your body temperature has risen slightly.
Now it’s time to do some basic stretches for each major muscle group in your:
Stretches should be done statically and not by bouncing to the end of the stretch (a ballistic stretch). A static stretch is where you extend the limb to a comfortable point and hold the position for 20 – 30 seconds. You should only stretch to a point where you can feel the muscle intended. You should never try to force a stretch or continue any stretch that begins to cause some pain.
With 10 minutes of initial aerobic work, another 5-10 minutes of stretching and 10 minutes cooling down after a workout, it means there will be an 20-30 minutes added to any workout. If you don’t have the time you can cut the warm up and cool down phases by half. Although bear in mind that the better you are warmed up the more you’ll get from the workout. Also remember that injury prevention is better than injury recovery!
A thorough warm up can put your mind and body in the right zone for you to have an effective workout!
Importance of Cooling Down
Short term recovery from a workout is important both physically and psychologically. Short term recovery is achieved through the cooling down phase immediately after a workout. The cool down helps reduce the chances of any muscular stiffness over the following few days, and lessens any potential for injury that may occur immediately after the exercise session when coordination may be a little off. A brief cool down will also allow the heart and lungs to reduce the immediate pace and start to pay back the oxygen debt caused by intense training.