So you’ve set aside time for a workout. You’ve made the appointment with your trainer, lined up some errands to do on the way home, prepped the family for your absence, changed your clothes, and strapped on your athletic shoes. And now you’re ready to just get ‘er done and get on with your life. But now, at the start of your workout when you’re nice and geared up, your trainer has the nerve to suggest a lengthy warm up?
Most people, if given their way, would skip right over the warm ups and get straight to the meat of the workout. After all, that’s why you’re there, right? So how important is warming up, really? Is it okay to let it go? The short answer: no, and here’s why:
For one, going into a workout with muscles that are cold, or having been mostly stationary for at least the previous hour or so, can increase your risk of heart problems. One study demonstrated this by asking participants free of previous heart conditions to run at a fast pace on a treadmill for 10 to 15 seconds at a very high intensity without completing any warm up activities. An ECG report taken after the sprint showed that 70% of these participants showed signs of abnormal heart changes attributed to low blood supply to the heart. We find that to be a little scary!
The physical act of warming up allows your mind to get ready, too. You’ve heard of “mind over matter,” and that philosophy rings true for exercise, also. If your mind can spend some time processing the workout you’re about to do, you’re more likely to perform better and stronger. Warming up can also improve your coordination and skill during your athletic activity.
And your muscles don’t much like jumping right into exercise, either. Your body performs at its safest, and best, when the heart rate rises gradually, allowing an increased blood flow to your muscles to prepare them for the job ahead. It is widely believed that cold muscles tear or strain more easily than ones that are properly warmed up.
So what kind of warm up is best? Ask your trainer to show you a few examples of a dynamic warm up. This is a far superior warm up to the often-popular choppy stretching of the hamstrings and shoulders. A proper dynamic warmup takes you through movements that mimic what your workout will entail. It also slightly raises your heart rate, allows for increased blood circulation, and raises your core temperature by a few degrees.
This is important to us because we value you, your health, and your ability to exercise well. The last thing we want to see is you getting injured and unable to properly exercise. Taking the few extra minutes to prepare your mind and body for the workout ahead is a smart and safe practice. And, really, in the grand scheme of your schedule, what difference will 6-8 extra minutes really make? You and your body are worth these few extra moments to ensure a long, healthy, and productive exercise routine.