Warm Up for Aerobic Activity
You have probably heard exercise instructors and trainers talk about the importance of always including a warm up in your exercise routine. They’re absolutely right. A good warm up is an essential component of a good workout. But just what do they mean by warming up?
The general phase of the warm up consists of easy, rhythmic movements. Easy cycling, walking and slow jogging are all good examples of general warm up activities. These exercises gradually begin to raise the heart rate and increase the body’s core temperature, in essence, warming you up from the inside out.
The specific phase of the warm up consists of activities that mimic the movements to be performed in the main portion of the workout. For example in a step class, low intensity
step moves are included at the start of the class to prepare people for the same moves that will be done with more intensity during the aerobic section. Some exercisers like to stretch at the end of their warm up and that’s fine, but the jury is still out as to how much good it does. Research shows that there is no difference in the injury rate between those who stretch during the warm up phase and those who don’t. Listen to your body and do what feels best for you (refer to Cool Down in this section if you wish to stretch).
Why is the warm up a key component of every workout?
- It prepares your mind for the workout ahead. Starting out slowly eases your mind as well as your body into the workout. Troubles and stresses of the day gradually disappear as you are required to concentrate on your technique and performance.
- It helps prevent injuries. The warm up increases the body’s core temperature and also increases the elasticity of muscles and connective tissue. Warm, flexible muscles are much less prone to injury.
- It enhances oxygen supply to the muscles. The flow of blood and oxygen to the muscles increases during warm up. When the working muscles receive more oxygen and nutrients during a workout, the result is improved athletic performance.
- It helps you pace yourself. If you rush into a workout without a warm up you may fatigue quickly. A progressive warm up involves all of the body’s energy systems and prevents large amounts of lactic acid build up and muscle fatigue. Good pacing allows you to work comfortably for longer.
- It improves heart function. The warm up prepares your heart for the demands that will be put on it as the intensity of the workout builds. It also reduces the risk of electrical abnormalities which may occur in the heart as a result of rushing into the workout.