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The Importance of Warming Up and Cooling Down
by Sheila Scott

I like to work with other personal trainers to learn new exercises, techniques, and methods of exercise. I recently had a session with a trainer at an unnamed big-box gym. I arrived on time and was led to the weight area where the work out began. No warm up! After the last weight-lifting activity, I was thanked for my time and given a business card for follow up. No cool down!

Now, I should have known better—and though I was shocked not to have been told to warm up or cool down—I decided to leave the gym at that point like any other 1st time client might. Boy, did I pay for it the next 3-4 days. Since my workout was strenuous and at a fairly high intensity, the need for both warm up and cool down was extremely important. However, even in cases of low intensity, the warm up and cool down should absolutely be part of your work out routine. Here’s why:

  • Cold muscle, tendons and connective tissue do not stretch very easily. Stretching without a warm-up is therefore unlikely to produce the best effects. Warming up also relaxes the body and muscle which further allows them to be stretched effectively. It is also believed that cold muscles and tendons are more prone to damage since they are more likely to tear when cold.
  • A warm-up increases the heart rate gradually, and aerobic exercise prepares the heart and cardiovascular system, together with the muscles, gradually, for exercise.
  • A warm-up also causes the blood to be diverted to the exercising muscles. This is achieved by getting the blood vessels that supply the muscles being used, to dilate. This extra blood is diverted from areas for the body not as important for exercising, such as the gut.
  • Exercising, without warming up, may cause the muscles to work without an adequate oxygen supply. This forces them to use anaerobic processes to supplement their production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). As a consequence, lactic acid accumulates and the muscles may become prematurely fatigued.

Cool Down Benefits:

  • Aids in the dissipation of waste products—including lactic acid
  • Reduces the potential for delayed onset muscle soreness
  • Reduces the chances of dizziness or fainting caused by the pooling of venous blood at the extremities
  • Allows the heart rate to return to its resting rate

So, bottom line, warm up AND cool down after each exercise session!

About the author:

Sheila Scott is an ACE Certified Personal Trainer training at Adventure Fitness Studio (303) 921-4556 http://www.corehealthfitness.net/