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Exercise: How to Properly Warm Up & Cool Down
by Justin Leonard
Written on October 29, 2000

There are two things everyone should practice before and after a workout is performed: (1) properly warm up and (2) properly cool down. A warm up helps the body prepare itself for exercise and reduces the chance of injury.

The body should be warm before any type of exercise is performed. This helps to decrease the chances of injury to cold muscles and joints. A warm up can be a slower or lighter version of the exercise to come. For example, walking before jogging or performing biceps curls with a light amount of weight before using heavier weights.

One of the most convenient ways to warm up is through aerobic or cardiovascular exercise. Sample exercises are walking on a treadmill or riding a stationary bike.

After aerobic activity, blood is sent to the extremities, and the heart rate is elevated as a result. The purpose of the cool down is to bring the heart rate down to its normal tempo. Stopping abruptly could place unnatural stress on the heart. The cool down should include stretching to help relax the muscles that were worked during exercise.

Cooling down can be as easy as walking on a treadmill after a workout, or simply stretching the muscles after exercise. It also helps to increase flexibility and lessen the effects of delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). DOMS is the muscle soreness that follows a workout. It usually lasts for about 2 days to a week after the muscles were worked.

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