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Should each cardio workout involve a warm-up and cool-down?

To prepare yourself to train most effectively, your body must first warm-up.  Choose a warm-up with movements similar to those you will be performing during your workout. For example, if you are going to be running you need to warm-up the legs with a running motion or something close to that. This can be in the form of low intensity movement patterns that will simulate movements you would use in running. Preparing the calves, quads and hamstrings as well as the upper body (arms and shoulders) is important. The goal of these movements is to increase blood flow to those areas, increase body temperature and prepare the body for the stresses of the cardiovascular workout. The warm-up should last between five and ten minutes. Equally important is the cool down after your workout. The cool down is a time to let the body begin to recover and prepare for the next workout. During the cool down, you start reducing the workload (speed, incline, level, watts) slowly to reduce the stress on the body. The goal is to bring you back to a low intensity which will drop your heart rate and core temperature as you flush out any lactic acid you may have built up in your muscles during the workout. How fast you recover will determine how long a cool down is needed. Heart rate recovery is the easiest way to judge your cool down time. The goal is for your heart rate to drop down close to the heart rate you began with. For most, this means getting the HR to under 120 bpms. This should be within approximately two to five minutes after ending your training session. If it takes longer, extend the cool down and reduce the intensity to a light walk and continue to take in fluids.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.