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The Importance of Warming Up & Cooling Down

Warming up and cooling down is probably the most crucial part of any workout routine. Yet, a surprising amount of people skip them! Obviously, we all want to get straight to the good stuff, but the benefits of warming up and cooling down are seriously worth the small amount of extra time they add to your workout sesh.

Incorporating warm-ups and cool-downs into your routine can decrease injury and improve overall performance, both of which will only make you more successful in the end. These simple, low-intensity exercise sessions have some amazing benefits!

"Wisdom is always an overmatch for strength." - Phil Jackson

Benefits of warming up

  • Increases blood flow to muscles to prepare them for exercise. This also allows your body to be able to increase oxygen flow.
  • Increases body temperature to improve muscle flexibility, contraction, and relaxation.
  • Preparing your muscles and body for exercise helps prevent injuries.
  • Gets you hyped for your workout! Getting your body ready also helps get your mind ready, helping you reach peak motivation and peak performance.

How to Warm Up

Warming up is just a short period of low-intensity exercise – try to shoot for 5-10 minutes. Usually, when considering a warm-up, the first thing people think of is static stretches, but these actually aren’t as effective. You want to go for stuff that gets your body moving! Instead, try dynamic stretches and activities like walking, jogging, or jumping jacks to get the blood pumping. Start slow and increase your speed and intensity as you go!

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Benefits of Cooling Down

  • Allows your body to gradually reduce heart rate, breathing, and body temperature, which helps with a safer transition from exercise to a relaxed state.
  • Reduces muscle soreness by clearing out lactic acid build-ups, which speeds up the recovery process.
  • Reduces delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which can cause injury and prevent you from reaching peak performance in the future.

How to Cool Down

Just like warming up, cool-down sessions should be short 5-10 minute periods of low-intensity exercises. It’s all about bringing things down gradually, so going from a run to a jog, then to a walking pace. Unlike warming up, static stretches are actually recommended for cooling down! Hold these stretches in position for 15-60 seconds to stretch the muscles. As always, these stretches shouldn’t hurt, but you should be pushing a little bit to get the most out of the stretch. As you cool down, focus on your breathing – bring it down to a slow, relaxed breath. 

The lowdown

A big part of why people skip out on these vital parts of working out is motivation. It’s understandable to want to jump right to it but warming up and cooling down will only help you be better and achieve more.

To make things a little easier, you could try following along with a YouTube video like this one by Joanna Soh or with an app like Performance Stretching by lolo that gives you easy to follow warm up and cool down programs!

Remember you can’t be the best unless you feel the best.

“If you persevere long enough, if you do the right things long enough, the right things will happen.” – Manon Rheaume

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