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Walking slowly and stretching exercises are examples of warm-up and cool-down exercises. Warm-up and cool-down exercise should be performed before and after any workout routine. Warm-ups prepare the body for exercise and activity by gradually increasing the heart rate and blood flow to the muscles. Cool-downs gradually reduce the heart rate, returning the body to a resting state and help reduce muscle stiffness. Warm-ups and cool-downs will add extra minutes to an exercise routine but will reduce the risk of muscle strain and injury.
Warm-up exercises increase the blood flow and warm the body while loosening the joints and muscles needed to work out. Engage in warm-up exercises for five to 10 minutes before beginning an exercise session. Gear your warm-up session to match the exercise or sport you are about to perform. Start the warm-up session slowly by rehearsing the movements your body will make during the workout session and gradually increase the intensity of the movement. A proper warm-up may cause you to feel sweaty but should not cause you to feel fatigued.
Warm-ups are lighter versions of the sport or activity you are about to perform. Walk slowly for five to 10 minutes to prepare for a brisk walk or walk briskly for five to 10 minutes to prepare for a run. Begin your water aerobics with a walk in the pool or start your swim with slow, leisurely laps. Do a light aerobic activity, such as five to 10 minutes of walking, before strength training. Continue a strength-training warm-up by mimicking the movements you will make during the strength-training workout.
Cool-down exercises reduce the heart rate and stretch warm muscles. Cool-downs are similar to warm-ups, as both involve performing an exercise at a slower pace. The cool-down period is the ideal time to incorporate stretching exercises into your workout routine. The muscles are warm from exercising, and stretching warm muscles improves flexibility and range of motion. Stretching during the cool-down period increases the blood flow to the muscles and reduces muscle stiffness and soreness.
Gradually cool-down by reducing your exercise intensity and ending your workout routine with stretching exercises. Cool-down from a run by slowing to a brisk walk or cool a brisk walk down to a leisurely pace. Apply the same slow-down principle to the last five to 10 minutes of any exercise routine or sport. Continue your cool-down period with quadriceps, hamstring and calf stretches, to relax and stretch the muscles in your lower body. Complete your cool-down period with chest, arm, neck, upper back and shoulder stretches to stretch and relax all of the major muscles groups in your body.