What is the importance of a warm up?

The purpose of a warm-up is to prepare your body for physical activity. The warm-up is generally used to increase body temperature, increase heart rate and breathing rate, and also help you mentally prepare for exercise.

The National Academy of Sports Medicine (NASM) recommends that a complete warm-up include both a general and specific warm-up. A general warm-up includes activities and movements that are not necessarily going to be performed in your actual workout, and should last approximately 5-10 mins at a low-to-moderate intensity. Walking on a treadmill or using the elliptical machine before a resistance training workout is an example of a general warm-up. A specific warm-up involves movements that closely mimic those of the actual activity you will be performing. For example, performing push ups prior to an upper body resistance training session.

All too often the warm up is just viewed as five minutes on a bike or treadmill at low intensity and then on to the real workout. 

The warm up can be looked at as a rehearsal before the activity.  This is to say that before any physical activity, it makes sense to practice the specific movement patterns associated with that activity.  For example, before a push up competition you would want to prepare the shoulders and elbows for all the pushing they are about to do by doing low to moderate intensity upper body pushing movements. This not only warms the specific muscles and connective tissue that are about to do work, but it also mentally and nuerologically prepares the body for a specific movement.

A quick jog on the treadmill on the other hand, mainly prepares the body for more jogging.

The warm up is used to prepare the body for activity. The main objectives are to increase heart rate and breathing, increase body temperature, and also psychologically prepare the body for exercise.

The warm up should consist of 5-10 minutes of low-to-moderate activity, before moving into the main exercise intensity.

This should be used for cardiovascular exercise, resistance training, and even flexibility training.

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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.