We asked Angela Bergmann (PTS, PFS, RKC, CFC and Mom of 5) why it is important to warm-up and cool-down, and this is what she had to say:
There are two important parts in every workout that you should never skip.
If you want to improve your strength and flexibility, reduce your stress hormones and reduce your risk of injury, you need to warm-up and cool-down before each and every workout.
The warm-up sets the stage for your workout. Think of your warm-up as the transition time between your normal every day world and your training event. Warm-ups are important because they prepare your body and mind for what’s to come.
Most people think that stretching after your workout is the secret to reducing muscle soreness and staying injury-free. I don’t agree.
More injuries occur because your body isn’t properly warmed up or your brain isn’t paying attention to the task at hand. And all new movements have the potential to create soreness. If you’re sore, drink water and keep moving!
So, what to do? Your warm-up should last at least 5 minutes and it should include full body movements that mimic the exercises you will be doing later on.
If you’re running, a brisk walk followed by hip circles and a chest stretch would be part of a good warm-up.
If you’re lifting weights, include some easy bodyweight exercises in your warm-up such as bodyweight squats, planks, and jumping jacks, depending on your fitness level.
I also like to see warm-up movements that move your body sideways. Think grapevine or side step ups. Cross body movements such as right elbow to left knee and left elbow to right knee engage your brain; cross your arms and legs over your body’s midline.
By the end of your warm-up, you should be breathing harder and feeling warmer than when you began.
After the main part of your workout is complete, it’s time to cool-down. Did you know that the cool-down period is a time to improve your flexibility and balance, AND it also helps reduce the stress hormones that naturally build up when you workout?
Even though exercise is good for you, it still creates stress in your body. Cooling down properly helps your body process and release that stress.
Take time to keep moving before you sit or lie down. When you stop moving suddenly after your heart has been pumping hard, it actually makes your heart work harder, in a bad way. So keep moving, but at a slower pace.
Once your breathing and heart rate have returned to near normal levels, it’s time to stretch your major muscles, concentrating on the ones you’ve worked. Focus on taking deep breaths and hold each stretch a minimum of twenty seconds. Deep breathing and stretching are two things that will reduce stress hormones in your body.
So now you have three reasons to warm-up and cool-down:
- Warm-up your muscles and your brain to reduce your chance of injury.
- Cool-down to improve your flexibility.
- Stretching and deep breathing will reduce stress in your body.
I trust you won’t skip another warm-up or cool-down again! Happy exercising!
Each workout in The FitMomLife Customized Fitness Program contains a 5 minute dynamic warm-up and a stretching cool-down designed for your particular workout!
Now, get out there and live fit and feel great. You’ve got this, Momma!