Many people don’t warm up before they undertake cardio exercise. When you’re in the mood to exercise and get that heart pumping, you may want to jump into high intensity workouts immediately before the feeling passes. Or perhaps you want to save time and burn more calories. Whatever your excuse, not warming up before your cardio workout is not acceptable.
Why Warm Up?
Warming up your body before a cardio workout serves a number of purposes, such as:
a) Redirecting blood flow from the organs in your body to your muscles, to help muscle movement and flexibility
b) Preparing your mind for the higher intensity activity after the warm up
c) Increasing your heart rate gradually instead of suddenly, as an sudden increase in heart rate can cause dizziness and other unpleasant sensations during the workout
d) Increasing the flexibility of connecting joints, tendons and tissues.
In short, warming up is extremely important and should never be skipped. It may lead to injury, or impair your ability to work out for days or even months (depending on the extent of the injury).
How Do You Warm Up?
For cardio workouts, warming up is really easy; just do whatever you plan to do for your workout at a low intensity. For example, if you cycle to get your dose of cardio exercise, then just cycle at a slow pace to warm up. Likewise with walking, just walk at a brisk but gentle pace (not too slow, as then your heart rate won’t increase). Ideally a warm up should be done for 10 to 15 minutes, followed immediately by the cardio exercise of choice.
Lots of people wonder if one should stretch too as a form of warm up before a cardio workout. Though experts recommend stretching to be done after the workout during the cool-down period, it’s okay to do some light stretching if you are feeling tight or knotted in some areas such as your ankles, back and hips. After all, if you don’t stretch when your body needs you to, you will just end up feeling uncomfortable throughout the workout.
So now that you know the importance of warming up before your cardio workout and how to do it properly, please do implement a warm up routine before each workout. An extra 10 minutes spent warming up can go a long way in making your workout a more successful one and preventing unwanted injuries.