If there is one thing you can count on happening when you workout, it’s that you’re sure to warm up. The whole idea of working out centers around increasing your heart rate, getting your blood pumping and toning your muscles – and all this effort is sure to make you get hot (literally and figuratively!)
It’s also going to make you perspire – this is your body’s natural way of cooling itself down after all that energy and effort. But, though studies have shown the need to warm up before an intense workout to avoid soreness, what many people fail to realize is that it’s also important to take the time to slowly cool down as well. After a workout, consider these reasons to stay warm – as uncomfortable as it might feel.
1. Slowly Warm Down
Cooling down or, as some people call it “warming down” exercises are less strenuous activities and stretches done after vigorous athletic activity. These types of exercises can help in several ways. Cool down exercises and stretches ensure that your breathing and heart rate slow down to its normal resting rate more gradually and naturally.
Warming down can also help prevent dizziness or fainting from blood pooling in the lower extremities. One study showed that athletes who perform extensive cool downs are less likely to become injured.
Plus, the lactic acid that accumulates in and around the muscles during exercise is more easily dispersed if you stay warm after a workout – this helps you avoid that telltale muscle soreness afterwards.
2. Injury Prevention
Not only can warming down help your heart rate return to normal and ensure you avoid feelings of dizziness or nausea after working out, but staying warm after a workout can also help you prevent injuries.
If your body cools down too quickly you may experience muscle cramping and other unpleasant ill effects. Wearing a warm pair of stylish track pants or that old letterman jacket can help you stay warm even after you stop working out. And hey, letterman jackets are always in trends and style so you’ll look sexy no matter how sweaty you are!
3. Illness Prevention
When you do a high intensity workout and then stop abruptly you’ll feel really hot compared to the surrounding air. Imagine that you step out of the gym into the cooler air to head home. While it might feel good at the time, it can actually shock your system, lower your immunity, and make you more susceptible to catching a cold, or other viruses.
Err on the side of wearing an extra layer or two, like a jacket, hat, or hoodie, to protect you from the temperature differential, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing.
Additionally, in winter months, accumulated water or sweat on your skin can also make you susceptible to heat loss. If you’re a swimmer living in cool climate, or if you swim in cooler waters and not heated pools, be especially careful to avoid adverse consequences by ensuring you keep as warm as possible. Wearing a neoprene cap, wetsuit, and earplugs can all help you keep your core temperature up. Also, remember to keep your head and body covered after your workouts, and until you’ve dried both your body and hair.
4. Keep Muscles Warm for the Next Set
When you wear clothing that keeps you warm during your workouts you can take breaks between sets and return to workouts faster and easier. If your muscles cool down too fast you may have more difficulty with your workouts and be more prone to injuries and soreness.
Keeping your muscles warm as you move around the gym, and waiting your turn on the benches and machines, will help you avoid any sprains and strains when you do your next set of exercises. While you may want to show off your biceps and body, save that for your post-workout dinner dates. While working out, aim to cover up and stay warm as much as possible.
5. Dress in Layers
You often see athletes wearing warm blankets or pullovers while sitting on the sidelines or after their match is over – especially if they’ve been active outside in the cold. Professional athletes stay warm during play and on the sidelines by employing tips and tricks like long underwear, gloves, turtlenecks, and hand warmers.
In summers, proper layers and clothing will help prevent muscle spasms and injury both during and after workouts. Dressing in layers also allows you to adjust as needed to keep your body at the right temperature – staying just warm enough without overheating and putting yourself at risk for heat-related illnesses, like sun-stroke and heat exhaustion. No matter what the season, choose moisture wicking fabrics with ventilation to ensure a comfortable fit.
Be sure to warm up and down to prevent muscle soreness. Stay warm with layers and head coverings to help regulate your core temperature and prevent heat loss. If you’re a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, staying warm both during and after workouts is important to prevent injury and illness, while also boosting your performance and gains.