Warming up to the Warm-up
Before you start any intense type of exercise (whether at the club or elsewhere) you should always perform a thorough warm-up first. This will help to prepare your body for the activity that lies ahead. Why then, do many of us skip the warm-up? Feel like it’s a waste of time? Studies show the warm-up is time well-spent, and here’s the proof: according to the American College of Sports Medicine’s Health and Fitness Journal, performing a low-intensity warm-up before training will:
- Increase the release of oxygen from the blood to enhance delivery to the tissues
- Increase body temperature
- Increase blood flow to the working muscles (including the heart)
- Decrease the viscosity of muscular contraction
- Cause an early onset of sweating to help maintain body temperature
- Enhance the speed of nerve impulse transmission
- Increase the blood saturation of muscles and connective tissue
- Prepare the muscular and cardiovascular systems for the upcoming physical activity
By increasing blood flow to the working muscles, you not only increase the supply of nutrients and allow more efficient functioning, but you will also increase your temperature, which improves flexibility and decreases your risk of injury.
For an effective warm-up, work out at a low intensity for five to ten minutes, choosing an activity that requires repetitive contraction of large muscle groups. Popular choices include walking, cycling, and cross-training. This will ensure that your workout is safe and enjoyable, and leave your body anxious to bring you back tomorrow.