How to Warm Up for Cardio Exercise

A warm-up simply means 5 to 15 minutes of aerobic exercise at a very easy pace. The term cardio is often used interchangeably with aerobic. Aerobic exercise is any repetitive activity that you do long enough and hard enough to challenge your heart and lungs.

What exactly does warming up do for you?

  • A warm-up warms you up — literally. It increases the temperature in your muscles and in the tissues that connect muscle to bone (tendons) and bone to bone (ligaments). Warmer muscles and joints are more pliable and, therefore, less likely to tear.

  • Warming up also helps redirect your blood flow from places such as your stomach and spleen to the muscles that you’re using to exercise. This blood flow gives you more stamina by providing your muscles with more nutrients and oxygen. In other words, you tire more quickly if you don’t warm up.

  • Finally, warming up allows your heart rate to increase at a safe, gradual pace. If you don’t warm up, your heart rate will shoot up too quickly, and you’ll feel like you’re walking through a knee-high snowdrift.

Brisk walking, bicycling, swimming, and stair climbing count as aerobic exercise. For example, runners may start out with a brisk walk or a slow run. If you’re going on a hilly bike ride, start with at least a few miles on flat terrain. Be aware that stretching is not a good warm-up activity.

People who are out of shape need to warm up the longest. Their bodies take longer to get into the exercise groove because their muscles aren’t used to working hard. If you’re a beginner, any exercise is high-intensity exercise. As you get more fit, your body adapts and becomes more efficient, thereby warming up more quickly.

Many people skip their warm-up because they’re in a hurry. Cranking up the LifeCycle or hitting the weight room right away seems like a more efficient use of time. Bad idea. Skimp on your warm-up, and you’re a lot more likely to injure yourself. Besides, when you ease into your workout, you enjoy it a lot more.

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