Warm-ups Are Not a Waste of Time
By: Lydia Kraus
We’ve all been there…unmotivated, short on time, rushing to the gym… all to get a quick work out in before hurrying to our next destination. Even on days when time is plentiful, it seems so easy to skip a warm-up. I haven’t always been in the habit of warming-up before my workouts. In fact, it’s really only been in the last few months that I have started focusing on my warm-up routine. I like to do this before I begin my daily exercise program, whether it’s weight lifting or HIIT (high intensity interval training), and I always encourage my clients to do the same. Through my education and personal experience, I want to share with you five benefits of a proper warm-up.
- Increased body temperature: With a higher body temperature, blood cells release oxygen at a faster rate and therefore lead to better oxygen utilization for muscles. A warm-up lessens the stress put on the cardiorespiratory system (lungs and heart) by giving one’s body time to adjust to the increasing physical demands.
- Increased blood flow to muscles: The diameter of one’s blood vessels increases, allowing for steady circulation of blood throughout the body. With increased oxygen in the blood stream, metabolic by-products, such as lactic acid, are quickly removed and the transfer of important nutrients becomes more readily available. Ultimately, muscular fatigue can be postponed and cramping can be avoided.
- Increased muscular flexibility: The tearing of muscle fibers is less likely to occur in warm muscles because the proteins that make up one’s muscle fibers are able to move more freely in the fluid of the muscle.
- Enhanced motor skills: Neural transmissions between your brain and muscles are able to move faster, thus allowing for continuous activity, ease of movement, and quicker reaction times.
- Joint health: Increased viscosity in joints allows for better joint lubrication and better range of motion.
- Every training session should begin with a warm-up
- Adjust the amount, intensity, and duration according to your personal level of fitness and the activity to follow
- Typically a warm-up should be about 3-5 minutes, but in some populations, a gradual warm-up of 10-15 minutes should be considered
- Choose an activity that will increase your heart rate and body temperature (elliptical, walking, jogging, biking)
- Stretching is NOT the same as warming-up; warming-up should always take place before beginning any flexibility training