It doesn’t matter if you’re a weight lifter, yoga lover or treadmill runner – each and every activity you perform to work out requires warming up and cooling down. This isn’t just to make the activity easier on you, either. It’s an important part of the overall fitness process, protecting you from injury and helping you get the most out of your efforts. You should warm up in addition to, not instead of, stretching.

First of all, you’re literally warming up as your body heats up and blood pumps out to your extremities at a faster rate. Your muscles stretch and become more receptive to the push-and-pull being place on them by the exercise so that they can absorb the impact with minimal strain and keep you going longer. You’re also getting your heart rate to slowly accelerate rather than sending it straight to its maximum rate. And you can gradually quicken your breathing, with better control over your oxygen intake so that you can maintain your focus and stamina. This process should take about five to ten minutes.

At the end of your activity, you should also take about ten minutes to cool down. This means gradually decreasing your pace, as well as the intensity of the workout. For example, you might both slow your running pace as well as choose a less steep incline. You want to focus on reducing your heart rate to nearly its normal level by the time your cool-off is over. Doing this will decrease the likelihood of soreness the next day and let you move on to another fitness routine after only a short break, if so desired. You can actually welcome greater harm to your body by going from the height of your workout to sudden stillness, which can be abrupt and traumatic.

If you’re coming off a similar exercise that engages the same muscle groups, like going from an elliptical to a bicycle, you don’t necessarily need to warm up and cool down from both. However, keep in mind that taking extra time to warm up and cool down will ultimately give you a greater payout over the long-term when it comes to getting the most from your time at our Pivotal Fitness Greenville gym.