Warming up increases the temperature and flexibility of your muscles, and helps you be more efficient and safer during your workout. A warm-up before moderate- or vigorous-intensity aerobic activity allows a gradual increase in heart rate and breathing at the start of the activity.
· Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes. The more intense the activity, the longer the warm-up.
· Do whatever activity you plan on doing (running, walking, cycling, etc.) at a slower pace (jog, walk slowly).
· Use your entire body. For many people, walking on a treadmill and doing some modified bent-knee push-ups will suffice
Cooling down after a workout is as important as warming up. After physical activity, your heart is still beating faster than normal, your body temperature is higher and your blood vessels are dilated. This means if you stop too fast, you could pass out or feel sick. A cool-down after physical activity allows a gradual decrease at the end of the episode.
· It’s good to stretch when you’re cooling down because your limbs, muscles and joints are still warm. Stretching can help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to muscles cramping and stiffness.
"Warming up and cooling down are good for your exercise performance — you’ll do better, faster, stronger — and for your heart since the increased work on the heart ‘steps up’ with exercise.” Richard Stein, M.D. Department of Medicine at New York University