Do you perform a warm up before exercising? If not, you are not properly preparing your body for what it is about to endure. Warm ups perform several different duties:
They gradually increase muscle and overall body temperature. Warm muscles contract and relax quicker than cold, tight muscles; therefore, warm muscles are at less risk for injury.
- Warm ups enable a slow, gradual increase in heart rate. A sudden spike in heart rate can cause the heart to work harder than it wants to and reach exhaustion quicker.
- During a warm up, blood vessels dilate. A decrease in resistance to blood flow occurs during vasodilation; therefore, the heart does not have to work as hard to supply blood to the rest of the body. If the heart works too hard, exhaustion occurs.
- In addition to an increase in body temperature and heart rate, cooling mechanisms are kick started during a warm up. Starting the cooling process at the beginning of a work out prevents overheating from occurring too quickly.
- Finally, different hormones are released that make carbohydrates and fatty acids readily available for energy production. Without a warmup, it will delay the process.
Warm ups can be as simple as walking a few laps around an outdoor track or lightly jogging before a long run. Athletes prefer to slowly increase the intensity of drills that prepare them for their particular sport. Regardless of the activity, warm ups are crucial for a good work out!