Warm up to your workout

Pat Frock
By Pat Frock, Fitness Writer

A warm-up is an essential part of your exercise program. The increases in body temperature, heart rate and other metabolic processes improve the speed of your nerve impulses. You should do a general body warm-up, a body part specific warm up and an exercise specific warm up. All three types of warm up’s have their own distinct roles and benefits.

A warm up helps you to get maximum results from your workout. Many people are in such a rush to begin their exercise routine that they either “forget” to warm-up or make excuses that it doesn’t matter really matter. Nothing could be further from the truth. The warm up provides the body with a necessary period of adjustment from the resting state to the active exercising state. Done properly, it can improve your performance while reducing the chances of injury.

The temperature of the body increases, which improves the flow of blood through the muscles to be exercised. There is also an increase in the heart rate, which helps prepare the cardiovascular system for the work to come. Warm ups improve the speed at which nerve impulses travel through the body improving the efficiency of body movement. This allows the muscles to contract and relax with greater speed. A warm up also increases the rate of certain metabolic processes and facilitates the release of oxygen from the blood.

All of these physiological changes enhance the work capacity of the body. The ability of the muscles and connective tissues to stretch and extend themselves improves, while the viscosity (or resistance to movement) within in them decreases. Warming up readies your body for intense work and it gears up your mind to charge into the task at hand.

The general body warm up should be the first thing you do at the beginning of a training session. These five to ten minute periods of light exercise prepares the body for maximum performance and gives your mind the time it needs to focus on the coming workout, increasing your total efficiency and intensity.