The latest sports medicine research questions the value of warm-ups and cool-downs, and whether they really aid in muscle soreness recovery.
But there are still benefits to pre- and post-workout routines, as well as stretching after both – it comes down to getting them in correct order.
Warming up prepares your body for exercise by slowly increasing your heart rate and blood flow to muscles. A simple five to 10 minutes of light aerobics, like walking, before working out will limit stress on your heart.
Once your muscles are warm, the stretching can begin. Stretching can be static or dynamic; static involves holding each position for 10 to 30 seconds, while dynamic involves moving through your full range of motion.
Whatever you choose, stretching will build flexibility, which is key to maintaining agility and balance as we age. Some studies suggest dynamic stretching is better pre-exercise, while static is best post-exercise.
After you’re done your workout, a cool-down will bring your heart rate back down to normal. You can use a similar aerobic activity as your warm up for another five minutes, or until your heart rate is below 120 beats/minute.
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