Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Beginner's Diaries - Warmup & Cool down

Continuing the discussion on points to consider when beginning an exercise routine for the first time or after a long gap, it becomes important as a beginner to emphasize on the following the routine step-by-step and not skip steps. In simpler words, the most important parts of the routine are the warm-up and cool down.

The warm-up is an important component for everyone and not only the beginners to get the best out of exercise. However, it becomes especially important for beginners since the muscles in the body needs to be conditioned to sustain the exercise that follows and also to get all the internal systems like the cardio-vascular (heart and blood flow), cardio-respiratory ready for the routine. Sudden pressures on the muscles and internal systems can lead to injury and even prove fatal.

A warm-up raises the body temperature, enhances blood flow and lubrication at the joints, improves the neuro-muscular coordination and generally improves the body’s ability to deal with the exercises and avoid injury.
The warm-up can be general or specific. General warm-ups target the whole body, like cardio activities like walking or suryanamaskars or usually consist of dynamic stretches targeting joints and muscles. Specific warm-ups are for the specific muscles being worked out in the following workout which could range from mimicking the movement of the exercise without any weights or performing some repetitions of the exercise with the lowest possible weight.

Cool downs, are important to restore the blood flow (while exercising blood flow is shunted from non-active systems like digestive and reproductive systems to active systems like the muscular systems etc.), bring down the body temperature as well as to stretch the shortened and tense muscles and restore chemical balance in the body.
Cool down usually has static stretches which need one to hold the muscles in stretched positions for 20-30 seconds, deep breathing and relaxation exercises.

Many of us opt to skip the warm-up and cool down session to save time or to give more time to the main work-out believing that it will bring the desired results faster. Needless to say, it is wise to avoid doing this and follow the process to get the best out of exercise!

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