Let’s face it, we are all trying to save time, be more efficient, and make the most of the few precious hours we have in a day. This often leads us to try and find the quickest, yet hopefully still effective, route in regards to the task we are approaching. This is especially true of exercising. Most of us don’t want a marathon workout, but rather want to get in, get out and feel like we accomplished something. The problem is, that in this mindset, we often throw out a very important aspect that can affect our workout and results drastically. Warming up. Jumping into a workout or group exercise class full steam without allotting time for warming up can be detrimental to your body and produce less than optimal results.
Consider this, at rest our bodies typically see about 20% blood flow to the skeletal muscles, but with a warm up of about 10 minutes that number can increase to as much as 75% blood flow to the muscles. This means that you are receiving more nutrients and oxygen to the working muscle, as well as increasing the performance of your nerve transmissions in regard to the contraction and relaxation of the muscle being worked. Working a cold muscle right away without a warm up will decrease performance, which can translate into less weight lifted and/or less sets performed – meaning less results.
In addition to decreased performance, not properly warming up can increase the likelihood of injury. When a muscle is cold, and the joints are not loose, you are at an increased risk for muscle strains, tears, or joint pain. Each of these can sideline a person from completing a workout, or worse from doing anything for several weeks. Warming up the joints and the muscles allows for better range of motion and elasticity in the muscles being worked, which, when working within your abilities, can help prevent injuries.
So next time you are heading for a workout and you are crunched for time, remember the workout you’ll get without warming up will not be as efficient or as safe as you would hope. So, hop on the elliptical, get you blood flowing, do some light stretching and take the time to prepare yourself both physically and mentally for the challenge of that workout. Your body will thank you!