Why Should I Warm Up Before a Workout?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
On those days when time is at a premium, it can be tempting to skip your warm-up and jump right into your workout.  Is that a smart use of your time, or is it asking for trouble?  Even though the warming up won't burn hundreds of calories or get you those six-pack abs you've always wanted, it still has a very important place in your workout routine.  Why warm up?  Here are 10 good reasons.

Warming up before you work out will...
  1. Increase blood flow to your working muscles, better preparing them for the additional workload to come
  2. Increase the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to your muscles, which prevents you from getting out of breath to early or too easily
  3. Prepare your heart gradually for an increase in activity, helping you avoid a rapid increase in blood pressure.
  4. Prime your nerve-to-muscle pathways to be ready for exercise, which can improve the quality of your workout
  5. Improve coordination and reaction times
  6. Reduce the chance of soft tissue (ligament, tendon and muscle) injuries by allowing your muscles and joints to move through a greater range of motion easily (and safely)
  7. Lubricate your joints for easier (and less painful) movement
  8. Increase blood temperature, which can allow you to work out longer or harder
  9. Prompt hormonal changes in the body responsible for regulating energy production
  10. Help mentally prepare you for the workout ahead, giving you a few minutes to get "pumped up" for a great workout! 
A warm-up should be done before each workout session: cardio, strength training, and even stretching-based classes like yoga.  It doesn't have to take a lot of time since 5-10 minutes is typically all you need to get your body ready for working out.  Plan to spend more time warming up for very intense workouts, whereas you can spend less time warming up for low- to moderate-intensity workouts.
Not sure how to warm up?  A warm up can be a lower intensity version of the activity you're about to do, or it can be something different.  A proper warm up gradually raises your heart rate and gets your muscles primed for activity.   For more information, check out The Ultimate Guide to Proper Warm-Ups
Spending just a few minutes on this important component of your workout will help you perform at your best, prevent injury and make your workout experience as positive and effective as possible!
Are you guilty of skimping on your warm-ups? Do you believe warming up is beneficial?

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