In the present world with its emphasis on fitness, quite a
large proportion of the population is involved in physical exercises. Therefore, it is
that one should fully understand the importance of warming up before undertaking
any strenuous activity. I have found that many persons repeatedly ignore going through the warm up stage before
the actual exercise because of lack of knowledge about the adverse consequences of not
warming up properly. And
cooling down is given even less importance, so much so that even those with
reasonable common sense think that it is not necessary at all and the body will
take care of itself on this issue.
Alas! this is not true.
Let me emphasize that warming
up before exercise and cooling down after it are just as important as the exercise
I said above, warming
cooling down are important parts of any exercise programme.
You will ask, "Why warm up?" Let me explain.
Warm up exercises are absolutely inescapable before carrying out rigorous
A proper warm up helps in increasing the supply of blood to the muscles.
It also assists the
body in making a smooth change from a state of rest to that of activity and
in the process prevents injury, soreness and stiffness.
Several changes takes place in the body when it enters the activity mode. The respiration
rate goes up and along with it there is a sharp jump in supply of blood, oxygen
and nutrients to the cells. This rate of increase must be regulated to prepare
the body for the physical stress that exercise will demand. If the body proceeds
into sudden activity without warm up, the result will adversely affect its
functioning and cause a sub-par performance.
Proper warming can go a long way in helping you avoid injuries and improve
performance. It gives the heart a suitable period to adjust and pump up
required blood and nutrients into muscles. Warming up is vital and more so
for older people, since they have weaker hearts and sudden activity can produce heart attacks. By
properly warming up the muscles and joints with some slow paced simple movements for 5
- 10 minutes, one avoids injury and builds endurance over time.
How does a person warm up properly? Initially, it can be done in any procedure that enables the heart to beat faster.
You should practice warm-up exercises for 5 - 10 minutes at the beginning of an exercise
Those advanced in age may need a longer period to warm up as their muscles
and joints are less supple and flexible. Low intensity aerobic
movements such as brisk walking, swinging the arms, or jogging are the best.
One should start at a gentle pace and then slowly increase it until
the rate of heart beat increases and the body temperature rises. What is important
is that the pace should be in accordance to one's current fitness level,
so that the activity will leave the person energized, not exhausted.
After working up a light sweat (suggested time is 5 to 10 minutes depending on
ambient temperature and age) one should do some simple stretching exercises. Stretching
exercises help in developing overall flexibility, particularly in the spine, shoulders, hips,
knees and ankles. Be certain that the major muscles groups are stretched for 8 seconds minimum. It is necessary to keep
the feet moving or do leg exercises whenever the upper body is stretched in
order to prevent blood from pooling in the legs.
A word of warning here. You should do stretching only after the muscles are warmed up
and moreover never bounce while stretching
since this leads to a contraction that may result in muscle damage.
The kind of stretching should be based on the type of activity a person plans to engage
in. For instance, if one is about to play sports, the recommended kind of stretching would be the ones that
are similar to the movements that will be done in the court or field.
For example, weight-lifters should load the bar with about 50-60% of the heaviest weight
planned to be lifted in the session. This should increased to 80%, then eventually to 90%. Take short rests in between the
warm up lifts. After this warm up, one can now proceed to the heavy lifting for the day. The advantage of
rehearsing the procedure is that the heavy sets will feel less daunting and can now be performed with considerably
ease and less stress.
After warming up and proceeding to the main workout, it is equally important to cool down.
Cooling down after exercise by walking slowly, then stretching muscles,
prevents strains and blood pressure fluctuation. Applying brakes suddenly to
your strenuous activities results in sharp reduction
of blood pressure and is dangerous especially for
the elderly. When a person stops exercising or lifting weights suddenly, blood gathers in the muscle and oxygen
supply gets blocked.
When this occurs, that person
is in risk of suffering from muscle pull, tear or cramps or even a heart attack. So cooling down should
be properly done and given the same importance as warming up.
Exercise is good for health. Everyone should be encouraged to do some form of
exercise. But please remember the necessary precautions not only to stay safe
and healthy and obtain the full benefit of exercising, but also to maximize the
performance level .
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