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Warming Up and Cooling Down

woman exercising on rowing machine

Have you ever heard the expression "like a well-oiled machine"?

One of the best ways to work towards your optimal physical fitness level is by properly warming up before activity.

Much like a vehicle that runs more smoothly when it's warm, your body will be better prepared for activity after a good warm up.

Start by moving at a slow pace to gently raise your heart rate and increase blood flow to your muscles and joints. After about five minutes, begin stretching your large muscle groups, including legs, arms, shoulders and back. Without ever bouncing, stretch to the point just before you feel discomfort. Hold each stretch for a minimum of 10 to 20 seconds, breathing in a normal and relaxed fashion.

Near the end of your physical activities, be sure to cool down by slowing your pace and continuing to move for about five minutes. A proper cool down will allow your heart rate to return to normal and help prevent the pooling of blood in your limbs.

Once your heart rate has slowed, stretch each of your working muscles the same way you stretched during the warm up. During the cool down, you may find you can stretch even further, as your muscles are now warm and flexible.

Last Updated: August 14, 2013