The Warm-up & Cool-down
Why do we need a warm-up?
Although often overlooked, a warm-up serves several important functions for us when we exercise. The warm-up increases blood circulation from their resting levels, enabling an increase in blood delivery to the areas of the body that will need it. A warm-up will help raise your body's temperature slowly which is a good thing. An elevated body temperature helps to rid the body of toxins, A warmup also gradually raises the heart rate, which is responsible for pumping the blood (through circulation) to all parts of the body. The warm-up also benefits us in that increases oxygen delivery to muscle cells, which will prevent injuries to muscle fibers, ligaments, and joints.
An increase in blood circulation, body temperature, heart rate, and oxygen delivery are all very good things, but they must be done gradually in order to prevent the body from being overloaded with the demands too quickly. It's not unlike the idea of starting an engine (older engines) up in cold weather to let them get moving prior to driving.
Why do we need a cool-down?
The cool-down gets overlooked more than the warm-up, usually because when we are pressed for time we feel it's something we can skip. The cool-down however is just as important as the warm-up. Te cool down helps the body to return to its original physiological state from the elevated rate that it was at during exercise. Just as it raised heart and body temperature during the warm-up, the cool-down helps the body return to normal levels. It helps the blood circulation ad oxygen delivery continue to the muscles that were in such need of oxygen during exercise. Avoiding the cool-down may allow blood to pool in the blood vessels that are expanded because of exercise, which would slow delivery back to the heart and cause dizziness.
Always allow time for a warm-up and a cool-down, even if it means taking time away from your planned exercise.