Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Do You Warm Up Before Working Out?

I’ve been a Certified Athletic Trainer for more than 20 years.  All too often I’ve heard, “I only have 30 minutes to work out and I don’t have time to warm up” or “What’s the point in warming up”?

A warm-up activity serves two major purposes—to enhance performance and prevent injury.  
According to the American College of Sports Medicine’s (ACSM) James Peterson, Ph.D., FACSM, here are 10 vital reasons for starting out with a warm up and not taking shortcuts.

  1. Increases degradation of oxyhemoglobin. In lay person's terms, warming up helps break down the chemical complex of oxygen, which enables it to separate from the blood and enhance its delivery to the muscle.
  2. Increases body temperature. Warming up reduces the potential for muscle and connective injuries.
  3. Increases blood flow to exercising muscles. The more blood that reaches the muscles, the easier the delivery of nutrients required for energy production.
  4. Increase blood flow to the heart. More blood to the heart means a reduced risk for exercise-induced cardiac abnormalities.
  5. Decreases muscle viscosity. Hey, if viscosity is bad for your car engine, it's not any better for your muscles. Warming up enhances the suppleness of the muscle.
  6. Help promote sweating. Remember: sweat is good. Sweating reduces the amount of heat stored in the body. Your body spends more energy cooling itself than through any other activity.
  7. Enhances the speed of transmission of nerve impulses. Motor faculties improve greatly when you're warmed up. Need proof? Get out of bed and run to the front door. You'll probably bump into something, or worse, fall down. If you walked to the front door, and stretched. You could run like Forest Gump.
  8. Increases the blood saturation of muscles and connective tissue. Sounds messy. In reality, the more blood reaching the muscles, tendons and ligaments, the better the elasticity of these tissues. This means better performance and reduced chance of injuries.
  9. Prepares the cardiovascular system for impending workload. Helps the heart and blood vessels adjust to the body's increased demands for blood and oxygen.
  10. Prepares muscles for impending workload. Warming up may reduce the likelihood of excessive muscle soreness.

Additionally, a proper warm-up can increase blood flow to the working muscle which results in decreased muscle stiffness, less risk of injury and improved performance.  Consequently, a warm-up is both physical and mental because it helps you physiologically and psychologically prepare yourself.
Taking a few minutes to warm up is a good time to mentally prepare for exercising because it can help to clear your mind, increase your focus, give you a chance to remind yourself about the skill of the action and review your fitness strategy. Also, research has shown that positive imagery can help to relax you and build concentration.

The perfect warm up is a very individual process that refines itself with practice, experimentation and experience. Try warming up in various ways and at various intensities until you find what works best for you!
Fitness for Health creates unique exercise programs based on a person's individual fitness goals.  Want to lose weight?  Interested in toning your body?  Aspiring to improve your athletic skills?  No problem!  Whether you are a young child or a child at heart, Fitness for Health can you help you achieve your fitness goals.  Visit www.FitnessForHealth.org to learn about our exercise and sports programs.

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