Don’t Forget Your Warm-up and Cool-down This Monday

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Getting your body moving is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. But before you embark on your fitness outing, make sure you’re prepared. Warming up before a workout is an important step to get your muscles and heart ready; cooling down helps your body start to recover when you’re finished. This Monday, set aside a few minutes before and after your workout to keep everything in tip-top shape!

If you’ve decided on a certain type of workout that is a bit more cardiovascular, there’s a good chance that you’re about to work your muscles. Even if you’re doing something simple like walking, warming up and cooling down will help you prevent injuries that can disrupt your routine. It’s smart and beneficial to ease your body into moderate physical activity, not just for your muscles, but for your heart and blood pressure as well.

Think about a car going from zero to 60 miles per hour. That may be a great feature for a car, but the human body is considerably more fragile. While exercise can jump start your heart and metabolism, it’s healthier to gradually increase your heart rate, get your blood flowing, and loosen up your muscles first. That way, when you’re ready to “hit the gas,” your body will be ready to take on higher-impact activity.

Cooling down is a way to ease your body out of that activity. If you slammed on the brakes while driving, it would send a jolt through the car and its passengers. Stopping movement suddenly isn’t quite as jarring, but a proper cool-down while you’re still feeling the heat from your workout can be great for your muscles. It gives your body a chance to start recovering and regulating its blood flow.

As far as technique goes, warming up and cooling down can be as simple as doing your chosen activity more slowly. For example, if you’re taking a brisk 30-minute walk, walk slowly for the first five to 10 minutes, gradually increasing or decreasing speed. Stretching is also a great way to warm up and cool down and may prevent muscle pain later on. Dynamic stretching that mimics the movements you’ll be doing during your workout is another great way to get your body into gear. Rather than static stretching, dynamic stretching moves like hip circles, arm swings, and high-stepping will help you loosen up and gradually elevate your heart rate. Doing them when you’re finished will help you slow yourself down.

This Monday, get excited about your workout routine and doing it safely! Your body will thank you later!