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Importance of Warm-Ups and Cooldowns when Exercising

Importance of Warm Ups and Cool Downs

Warming up and cooling down are two of the most important elements when working out. This can usually range from light stretches to cardio and weights, depending on what you prefer or what optimizes you for your exercise. While it might be common knowledge for people who are into fitness, do we really know what it’s all about and what it does do to our body?

In this article, we will be discussing the importance of these two vital steps. We will also break down what it really means to warm up and cool down. If you want to know how you can properly do it and find the most effective methods for you, read on.

What is a warm-up?

cardio warm up

Warm-ups are defined as an activity done before your exercise routine. It aims to help you better perform physiologically and mentally helps you start the gears before the main workout. It is our way of telling ourselves that there are more physically demanding moments coming up in a bit.

Usually, warm-ups consist of exercise that could cause you to perspire and sweat a little. This is why cardio activities like a quick jump to the treadmill or the elliptical are some of the most common warm-ups at the gym. Others incorporate stretching movements to ensure that your muscles are properly warmed up before doing any rigorous activities. It lasts for 10 to 30 minutes, depending on what you’re prepping for, as well as your personal preference.

Why do we need to warm up?

importance of warm ups

As we’ve mentioned, warm-ups are our way to tell our bodies and minds that we are about to do an exercise. It gently prepares us for our activities by gradually increasing our heart rate and blood circulation. It helps to loosen your joints and increase blood flow to your muscles, making it easier to go through your workouts without a hitch. Aside from that, our body temperature rises in a gradual way, and the speed and force of muscular contractions also increase in a way that’s not too much for our body.

Stretching is often part of warm-ups to prepare our muscles for action. Although stretching doesn’t boost strength, it eases muscle stiffness, prevents injuries, and reduces joint issues during workouts. This happens due to better neural function and coordination, which enhances joint lubrication and thickens cartilage, acting as shock absorbers.

Warm-ups also play a vital role in mentally preparing you for exercise. They help you focus and get motivated, ensuring you are mentally ready and pumped for your workout. For athletes, warm-up drills help regain muscle memory and stay alert during games.

Moreover, warming up boosts overall performance. By increasing blood flow to muscles, warm-ups improve oxygen delivery, crucial for energy during exercise. This also helps remove waste like lactic acid, which causes muscle fatigue. So, a good warm-up can lead to better endurance and strength in your main workout.

Warm-ups also help spot potential problems before intense activities. As you do various exercises, you can check how your muscles and joints feel, allowing you to address any stiffness or discomfort early on. This proactive approach can prevent worsening existing injuries or developing new ones.

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Stretches are usually integrated on warm-ups as a way for our muscles to prepare for the next activities. It doesn’t necessarily make us stronger, but it helps the muscles to become less stiff, prevent injuries from happening, and reduces the chance of joint problems during the workout. The reason why is the improved neural function and coordination, which helps us protect major joints by increasing the lubricating fluids and thickening our articular cartilages which are the body’s shock absorbers.

Being mentally prepared also adds up to the motivation, making sure that you’re hyped up throughout the workout. In cases like athletic games, warm-up drills help you regain muscle memory and wake you up to stay alert throughout the game.

How to do warm-up exercises

How to warm up before exercise
Screenshot from TheLeanMachines

As mentioned, warm-ups depend on your activity as well as your personal preference. However, it is recommended to do some cardio like walking, jogging, or elliptical to slowly increase your body’s temperature. It also helps you bring your heart rate up and increase circulation. If you are into muscle building, it is also best to do dynamic stretches. This can help you reduce muscle stiffness and prepare you for lifting or other rigorous activities.

Aside from cardiovascular exercises and stretching, strength drills are also recommended. This is usually done by people who are already in the intermediate level as this might be too much of a stretch for beginners. Sprint drills or jumps, as well as other calisthenic exercises, are considered to be strength movements. This gently increases the level of intensity and prepare your body for sudden movements in the next phase of your workout. Most heavy workouts need to have your muscles warm to prevent you from injuries and to make movements easier to deliver.

What is a cooldown?

what is a cool down

After an intense workout, it is always recommended to take a few moments to cool down. While many would skip this, it is actually an important step to make sure that your body knows that the activity is over. The main goal of cooling down is to decrease the intensity of your exercise session. This helps your body return to its normal state of rest. This is usually a combination of stretches or light movements, giving your body cues that it’s okay to relax. Cooldowns usually help your body to slow down your heart rate to a normal level, relax your muscles, and decrease your adrenaline levels.

Why do we need to cool down?

Importance of Cooling Down

Cooling down relaxes the body and returns physiological levels to normal after exercise. It prevents blood pooling by ensuring blood circulates rather than pooling in the worked muscles. This process gradually reduces heart rate and blood lactic acid levels and decreases adrenaline.

Cooling down can prevent feelings of nausea or fainting post-workout. Light movements ensure the brain continues receiving sufficient blood and oxygen, preventing dizziness and discomfort associated with abruptly stopping intense activity. Gradually cooling down helps the body adjust, reducing post-exercise malaise risk.

Additional reasons for cooling down include its role in muscle recovery. Stretching post-exercise helps muscles return to normal length, reducing delayed onset muscular soreness (DOMS) often experienced after strenuous activity. This aids faster recovery and muscle repair. Deep breathing during cooldowns helps further oxygenate your system, promoting relaxation and aiding the recovery process.

Cooling down also helps clear metabolic waste from muscles, such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid. This waste removal can reduce muscle stiffness and soreness, making the transition to your post-workout state more comfortable. It also restores the body’s pH balance, which can become acidic during intense exercise.

Furthermore, cooling down helps normalize blood pressure. Intense exercise can cause a significant increase in blood pressure, and a gradual cooldown allows it to return to normal levels safely. This can prevent dizziness and the risk of fainting caused by a sudden drop in blood pressure.

Cooling down is also an opportunity for mental relaxation. It provides a period for mindfulness and reflection on the workout, helping to reinforce the mental benefits of exercise, such as reduced stress and improved mood.

How to cool down

Cool Down and Full Body Stretch - Relaxing Cool Down and Stretching Workout Routine
Screenshot from FitnessBlender

The main key when cooling down is finding ways to gradually slow down after an intense workout session. You can start by jogging then slowly walking down for 3-5 minutes just so you can catch your breath, bring your breathing under control, and relax yourself a bit.

If you are doing some weights, you can cool down by walking around lightly, until you feel like you have relaxed a bit. Once your heart rate is back to its relaxed state, you can follow through with some stretching. This would help the muscles to relax, especially if they’ve contracted a lot during your workout. It will also help them return to its normal length and reduce the delayed onset of muscular soreness that you may experience afterward. Additionally, stretches also aid faster recovery and provide extra assistance as it repairs itself. Deep breathing would also help you oxygenate your system and help you further calm down.

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Overall, warm-ups and cooldowns are incredibly important when working out. While it may be overlooked by many, its benefits are definitely something that we should appreciate better, especially if you are into intense workouts that push your body beyond your limits. It is also important to take note that these processes would help prevent future injuries or other issues that you may encounter during and after your exercise routines.


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Abade, E., Sampaio, J., Gonçalves, B., Baptista, J., Alves, A., & Viana, J. (n.d.). Effects of different re-warm up activities in football players’ performance. Retrieved from

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