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How to Warm Up?

Ben wants to start exercising regularly, but feels dumb asking how. He knows that in order to run or ride a bike he can't just start sprinting or pedaling like a maniac. He needs to prepare his body for these activities, but has heard mixed things about stretching before working out.

The Basics of Warming Up

It's important to warm up your body before any physical activity. Warming up goes a long way toward preparing the body for exercising, both physically and mentally. It also helps prevent injuries.

The term "warm-up" describes many light-aerobic and cardiovascular activities, which are separate from stretching. (Stretching works best when performed after warming up.) When you warm up, you are literally warming up the temperature of both your body and your muscles.

Warming up also:

  • increases your heart and respiratory rate
  • boosts the amount of nutrients and oxygen delivered to your muscles
  • prepares the body for a demanding workout
  • makes it easier to burn calories
  • extends your workout

Types of Warm-Ups

You can use many types of warm-up activities to prepare your body for intense physical exercise. Often a warm-up activity is simply the activity you are about to do but at a slower pace. For example, if you're about to go for a brisk run, warm up with a light jog, and if you're going to go for a swim, do a couple of slow freestyle warm-up laps.

Only after this light warm-up, which should last about 5-10 minutes, should you attempt to stretch.

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