How important are the warm-up and cool-down portions of a workout?
Warm-up and cool-down activities should be an essential part of all exercise programs.
The purpose of warm-up activities is to prepare the body, especially the cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems, for the conditioning or stimulus phase of the exercise session. The cool-down phase assures that venous return to the heart is maintained in the face of significant amounts of blood going to the previously working muscles.
Light aerobic endurance activities, coupled with activities, provide the fundamental basis for both the warm-up and cool-down phases. The length of the warm-up and cool-down periods depends on several factors, including the type of activity engaged in during the conditioning period, the level of intensity of those activities, and the age and fitness level of the participant.
In general, the warm-up and cool-down phases should last approximately five to ten minutes each. If the individual has less time available to work out than usual, it is recommended that the time allotted for the conditioning phase of the workout be reduced, while retaining sufficient time for both the warm-up and cool-down phases.
Bryant, Cedric X. 101 Frequently Asked Questions about "Health & Fitness" and "Nutrition & Weight Control". Sagamore Publishing, 1999.