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Stretching and Warming Up Are Important Before Exercise For Ideal Fitness

Are you a person who does not realize the consequences of failing to warm up before each time you exercise? If you are involved in any kind of physical exercise, it is imperative that you warm up before starting any strenuous physical activity.

This is ever more important if you are over 40 years and have not been involved with physical exercise on a regular basis. Going out in the yard or garden to work on a weekend when you are not doing it daily, can lead to not only sore muscles and joints but even serious injury. As you get older your heart becomes weaker, your joints have less fluid and are less flexible and you tendons and muscles are less supple.

Why warm up? When you warm up, you should start out gradually increasing the level of activity and physical stress which increases the blood flow, oxygen and nutrient supply to your heart and muscles.

Your warm up increases mental alertness and awareness, loosens joints and increases joint fluid, and loosens muscles, minimizing wear and tear on muscles and joints. It also allows for increase in the blood flow to your heart preparing for its needed increased activity.

How can you warm up to gain these benefits? You can jog,run,walk briskly, use a rowing machine or cycle or use one of elliptical or similar stepping/walking machines. Initially, it can be done using any activity that enables the heart to beat faster.

One can simply walk or jog or if cardiovascular equipment is available, such as a rowing machine or a bicycle, these can be utilized.Start Start slowly at a gentle pace allowing the heart rate and body temperature to slowly increase. Your pace should be increased slowly depending upon your current level of physical fitness. If you do this you will feel energized and not exhausted.

After warming up for 3-5 minutes, (working up a light sweat,longer if the person is working out in a cold environment), you should stretch your whole body which will increase flexibility especially in the spine, shoulders and hips. The type and degree of stretching is determined by the kind of activity you plan to engage in.

For instance, if one is about to play sports, the recommended kinds of stretching would be the ones that reproduce the same activities and movements you plan to engage in. Each stretch of a tendon or muscle group should last at least 8 seconds. The stretching should be done only after and initial period of warming up. Stretching is a steady process, not one of bouncing which can lead to muscle tears or strain.

If you are a weight-lifter, this stretching should be done only after your weight lifting warm up. Start out lifting 50% of your planned maximum weight for the session doing the planned number of repetitions. Then go to 70% and then 90%. Rest 30 seconds and repeat the process to finish you warm up. Now proceed to stretching.

After this warm up and stretching, you can go on to your planned heavy lifting for the day.

A cool down procedure similar to your warm up, is as important as your warm up to allow the heart and skeletal muscles to cool down and get rid of accumulated waste products from you vigorous exercise such as weight lifting. After warming up and proceeding to the main workout, it is equally important to cool down.

When a person suddenly stops exercising or lifting weights, blood gathers in the muscle and oxygen is blocked. When this happens, a person runs the risk of having a heart attack. So cooling down should have the same importance as warming up.