Warming up before exercise is vital to prepare the muscles for the workout, improve the quality of the workout and be mentally prepared for exercising. As exercise physiologist and fitness consultant Elizabeth Quinn writes for About.com, a pre-exercise warm up also helps prevent increased stress to the heart and injury to the muscles, ligaments and joints. In addition, warming up allows for mental preparation for the workout.
According to FitDay, warming up before exercise increases blood circulation. Quinn explains that this increases both muscle and overall body temperature. Muscles that are physically warm have enhanced speed and strength and are less likely to become injured through overstretching, strains or pulls. With increased blood temperature, oxygen binds less readily to hemoglobin, making the oxygen more available to the muscles, which may help increase the endurance of those muscles. The dilation of the blood vessels and increased circulation that occur during the warm-up phase also lower stress on the heart.
FitDay points out that warming up before exercise allows the mind to prepare itself for the workout. Many exercise routines put a great deal of stress on the body and some, such as cycling or hiking up a steep hill, also pose a mental challenge. Warming up helps the exerciser increase her focus and concentration, review any strategy needed for the workout and relax both the mind and body, according to Quinn.