If you consider “warming-up” and “cooling down” to be the walk back and forth from your car to the gym (guilty!), there’s a good chance you’re missing out on some added health benefits that come from book-ending your workout properly.
Not only does it help you make the most of your current sweat session, but it also helps protect and prepare your body for your next workout. Here are four more reasons to prime your muscles pre- and post-exercise:
1. Decrease perceived exertion. Refer to Newton’s law of inertia (“A body at rest remains at rest, and a body in motion continues to move at a constant velocity unless acted upon by an external force”), and it’s easy to see why a workout feels easier when you’ve taken the time to ease into it versus starting out cold.
2. Work harder, reduce injury risk. A gradual warm-up circulates oxygen-rich blood throughout the body, fueling muscles and safely preparing them to better absorb shock, impact and other demands associated with all types of exercise.
3. Remove waste products. Anaerobic exercise (think intense bursts where you’re out of breath) builds lactic acid in muscles and can cause painful swelling, so cooling down properly can help the body flush toxins and usher in oxygen and other healing nutrients.
4. Burn more calories! Every little bit counts, and stacking an extra 10 minutes of movement to both the beginning and end of your workout means you’re getting more bang…er, burn…for your buck every time you exercise.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post where I’ll be covering some suggestions for simple warm-up and cool-down exercises!