Many people work out and repeatedly ignore going through the warm up stage before exercising, completely unaware of the consequences this might bring.
Why warm up? Once the body engages in physical activity it undergoes several changes: respiratory rate and blood flow increases, more oxygen and energy is delivered to the cells.
The rate of increase should be linear and prepare your body for the physical strain the coming exercises will put on it.
If you leave out this preparing stage, your body will function way less efficiently and your exercise routine will not produce as good as results as it could.
Warming up lubricates joints and looses your muscles and you are less likely to suffer an injury.
It also gives the heart a much needed adjustment period to pump blood and nutrients into muscles.
What constitutes a proper warm up routine? Basically any routine that makes the heart beat faster without too much strain is a good warm up routine.
You can simply walk or jog...
If cardiovascular equipment is at hand, such as a static bicycle or an epileptical running machine, it is preferred you use them.
Start at a moderate pace, and then slowly increase the pace until your heart beat rate increases and your body's temperature rises.
Note that it is very important that this pace is related to your current fitness level, the warm up routine should leave you energized; not exhausted.
Work up a light sweat for about 5 minutes and then move on to dynamic stretching.
Stretching helps in improving overall flexibility.
The kind of stretching exercise depends on what kind of work out you are going to do.
Make sure that the major muscles groups are stretched for 10 seconds minimum and keep your feet moving or exercise your legs to prevent blood from pooling in the legs.
Remember, only stretch if you have already warmed up your muscles.
Also, do not bounce while stretching.
It could lead to a contraction which in its turn may result in muscle tear or pull.
Now that you are fully warming up and stretched, you can start your main workout, but remember: it is equally important for you to let your body cool down after this main routine.
Should you abruptly stop exercising, blood will gather in the muscle and block out oxygen supply.
When this happens, cramps are the least of your worries; you actually run the risk of having a heart attack.
You should give the same importance to cooling down as to warming up.
Warming down is done pretty much the same way as warming up, just decrease the rate or speed of your exercise instead of increasing it Exercise is good for your health if you take all the necessary precautions.
This way you will not only maximize the results of your workout, you will also be safe and stay healthy.