For many of us, the warm-up is the most dreaded part of working out. If we’re being honest, most of us would rather skip the warm-up altogether so that we can go ahead and get to the “fun stuff.” While this is understandable, it might not be the wisest decision to make. Below are five good reasons why you should never skip warming up before you workout.
1. Warming up increases blood flow to your muscles.
As you warm up, your body will begin delivering additional blood flow to your muscles to help them prepare for the work ahead. This increased blood flow will provide much-needed oxygen and nutrients to help boost strength and endurance, and it will enable the body to operate more efficiently during your workout.
2. Warming up prepares your nervous system for exercise.
Many people don’t realize the important role that the nervous system plays in exercise. Your nerves are the “delivery drivers” that transport messages from your brain to your muscles, making movement possible. By taking the time to warm up, you will increase your core body temperature, which in turn will speed up the nerve impulses that stimulate muscle movement. When this happens, communication between your nerves and muscle fibers is much more efficient, leading to better performance.
3. Warming up reduces your risk of injury.
If you jump immediately into a workout without warming up first, you run a greater risk of straining, spraining or pulling a muscle. Keep in mind that your muscles are comprised of stretchy, elastic tissue that functions more efficiently after it has been “warmed up.” It’s no different than trying to inflate a balloon without stretching it first – while it’s not impossible, it’s going to be far more difficult, and the balloon might even pop in your face! By warming up first, you increase your circulation and core body temperature, which in turn will boost the flexibility and elasticity of your muscles. This will enable them to take on more rigorous demands without putting them at undue risk for injury.
4. Warming up helps to lubricate your joints.
Just like an automobile requires oil for the engine to run smoothly, your joints require a natural substance known as synovial fluid to help them perform their movements. When you take the time to warm up before working out, the synovial fluid in your joints begins to heat up, facilitating easier movement and improving range of motion.
5. Warming up helps you mentally prepare for your workout.
More than likely, you’re cramming your workouts into an already-hectic schedule, and sometimes it can be difficult to transition from all the hurry-and-scurry into a focused and effective sweat session. Warm-up time gives you the perfect opportunity to clear your mind in order to focus on the task at hand. As you begin to warm up, your mind-body connection will become more acute, and you will begin to feel a sense of readiness that basically communicates “It’s time to get to work.” From that point, you can begin your workout with a higher level of mental engagement.
Warming up for about 5-10 minutes is the best way to physically and mentally prepare for your workout session. Yes, it might not be the most exciting part of your exercise routine, but it can make a huge difference in your performance level, and it can greatly reduce your risk of injury as well. So the next time you feel a little dread coming on when you think about warming up, keep the above points in mind to help you stay on the right track.