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Exercise Warm Up & Cool Down

Most injuries are caused by the failure to adequately warm up before exercising. Stretching loosens and warms the muscles and tendons, preventing strains and tears.

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Stretching also helps move your head from the rest of the world into a focus on your body, the way it feels and moves. Awareness of the body helps prevent accidents that can happen when people aren’t paying attention.

Warm up for ten minutes before working out.

Make sure you warm up your whole body, not just the large muscles you expect to be using. Pay attention to loosening up your neck, stretching your lower back, and moving your wrists and ankles. Stretch your hamstrings and Achilles tendon too. Don’t rush through stretching: take the time to prepare your body for the workout.

Cooling down is also important, especially after a hard workout. If you’ve worked too hard, the cool down may be where you first realize it, as muscles may cramp on you, or you may feel exhausted or dizzy. Aerobics instructors provide time at the end of class for cooling down; don’t rush off to the shower. Linger, feel your body letting go of its pent-up energy, let your heart rate return to normal and have a drink of water.

Although it’s tempting to take a sauna or hot tub at the gym, it isn’t the best idea to do so soon after working out. Take plenty of time to cool down first, and drink plenty of water. Usually you’re warm after a workout, and putting your body into hot water or a sweatbox when it’s already overheated can make you faint. You may become dizzy or nauseous if your body heat is too high: your blood pressure may be affected.

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