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Fitness Routine - Warm-up and Cool-down

Whatever form of exercise we do, during the actual workout, our body condition differs greatly from the normal body condition. Our body's link between the normal and exercise condition is the warm-up and cool-down.

Fitness Routine - Warm-up & Cool-down One of the common misconceptions in fitness exercises is that "stretching is warm-up." Stretching is a very important part of warm-up exercises, but it is "not warm-up." Warm-up is the process wherein you literally raise your body temperature (some say for about one to two degrees Celsius) to prepare your muscles from the normal to the exercise condition.

Warm-ups are done at the beginning of a workout. Performing warm-up exercises before you stretch is essential in any activities especially in fitness workouts and trainings. Warming up, when done properly, can do more than just prepare and loosen your stiff muscles for heavier exercises. It can also improve your fitness performance. Your susceptibility to injury from engaging in athletic activities can greatly increase without a warm-up or even a warm-up done improperly.

Some of the common warm-ups are light static (passive) stretches, calisthenics, and skipping rope. Start your workout with several deep breaths by inhaling through your nose and exhaling through your mouth. You can perform a slower walk or a gentle jog for a few hundred yards if you plan to walk or run. For an Aerobics Exercise, you can do several minutes of light, dance-like movements to gradually condition your body.

Devote the last part of your warm-up routine to similar exercises that you will be performing during your major workout or activity - only, do it at a reduced or lower intensity. This will greatly minimize the risk of having a sport-specific injury.

Although it is tempting to forego the cool-down stage, remember that as your body needs to pass the warm-up link stage to reach to exercise condition, it also needs to pass the cool-down stage to return to normal condition. Cool-down Exercises allow your body to relax and to return to a resting state after you have completed it. Also, performing a cool-down is the best way to minimize muscle fatigue and soreness due to the high muscle exertion from your major activity/workout. Thus, you should never attempt to skip this stage.

The cool-down routine is warm-up routine done in reverse. It slows the pace from your run, aerobic exercise, or workout routine. This enables your heart rate to return to fewer than 100 beats per minute and your breathing to return to normal condition. For your cool-down, since your muscles are still warm and more elastic from your workout or sport, you can do a stronger and more aggressive stretch than your warm-up.

Both warm-up and cool-down are aimed to enhance flexibility, minimize discomfort, and prevent injury. Also, they involve some stretching and relatively gentle movements.

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