What Goes Up Must Come Down
August 12, 2016
We’ve all been there, you make the effort and time go to an exercise class or to the gym and you just want to get stuck into your workout, without ‘wasting time’ with a warm up. Or you have done your time, tired the body working up a sweat and just want to make it home for the evening, so a cool down is the last thing you prioritise.
Our full and often hectic lives can be so busy, that setting aside time to exercise can be a challenge in itself, so it’s only natural that we look for shortcuts at times. Although skipping warming up and cooling down seems harmless enough, it is possible that you are not only jeopardising your health, but also restricting your performance and progress.
Aside from preventing joint and muscle injury, warm ups and cool downs can help to increase flexibility, regulate blood circulation and improve muscle strength as well as preparing us physiologically and psychologically for the exercise we are about to undertake. During a warm up, the body’s temperature steadily increases, allowing muscles to gradually heat up. This encourages our muscles to loosen, preparing ligaments and tendons for exertion. This preparation stage also increases your heart rate gradually, minimising stress on your heart during exercise.
Allocating time for a cool down after a workout is equally as important, as it allows your heart rate to gradually regulate and drop back down to its normal steady pace. During this time waste products from the muscles flush back into the circulatory system, preventing post workout muscle soreness caused by the build up of lactic acid.
Furthermore, the cooling down process allows your body to fully stabilise gradually as the heart rate, blood vessels and body temperature return to the pre-workout state. Stretching within your cool down is key as it allows the body and mind to de-stress and relax from the exertion of the workout undertaken. Stretching out warm, worked muscles can increase flexibility, with less risk of pulling or damaging the tissue. The aim of the cool down is to decrease the intensity of the aerobic session and to return the body to a peaceful state of rest.
If you don’t already, aim to ensure you make time to begin a workout with an energising warm up and complete it with a calming cool down… before long these additions to your routine will become habits, not chores.