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Warm up or break down

Hot to trot
Hot to trot
Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Prepping the body for exercise is a very important part of a workout, however many decide to forgo this step and it often comes back to bite them in the form of an injury. A warm up is the preparation of the body prior to an athletic event, workout, practice or competition. The risk of injury is reduced as well as muscle aches and pains when one is properly prepared. Physiologically, when a person warms up the circulatory system begins to pump oxygen-rich blood to the working muscles. This prepares the body for the physical demands that come along with physical activity. When muscles are cold (or not properly prepared) they do not properly absorb the shock associated with working out and leave the athlete more susceptible to injury. Aside from injury reduction, a warm up also increases blood flow making the muscles more pliable in preparation for stretching, prepares the heart for increased activity by preventing a rapid increase in blood pressure and improves coordination and reaction time.

Warm up exercises ranges from brisk walking and stretching to jogging/running or using cardio machines. Depending on the workout, a warm up routine could last anywhere from 5 minutes to 30 minutes. Some exercises that are usually included during a warm up routine are: arm circles, jump rope, jumping jacks, skipping, bounding or sprints. Dynamic stretches such as knees to chest, butt kicks, high knees, air punches and jump squats are also great exercises to get the body ready to work at the intended intensity level.

Bottom line, warming the body up prior to working out is essential to keeping the body healthy and injury free. It’s like trying to drive a car in the freezing temperatures of winter… It functions better after the car has been started and prepared to drive. Adding a warm up routine can prepare you for a more effective workout. The more efficient the workout, the better you are for doing it.