An effective warm-up and cool-down is a very important aspect of exercise training.
Why warm-up and cool-down?
The body needs to adapt to the physiological changes during exercise. A warm-up encourages these adjustments by increases your breathing and heart rate. This increases the blood flow to the working muscles to supply them with more oxygen in order to prepare the body for exercise.
Likewise, a cool-down helps you gradually return to a resting heart rate and breathing rate. This can avoid fainting and dizziness when exercise is suddenly stopped. An effective cool down also helps to remove lactic acid from your muscles which builds up during vigorous exercise.
How to do an effective warm-up and cool-down
A warm-up and should start gently and gradually increase in intensity to allow your body time to prepare. An effective warm-up should take 5-10 minutes. It should include low intensity aerobic activity such as walking or jogging. If training for a specific sport you could do the sport specific activity but at a low intensity for your aerobic warm up and gradually increase the intensity. Stretching is a vital aspect of a warm-up so make sure you have time to stretch all of the muscle groups prior to exercise. Hold each stretched position for 30 seconds to allow for adequate change in muscle length. A cool-down should gradually decrease in aerobic intensity to allow for a gradual return to resting state. Stretching should also be included into the cool-down.