Updated: Mar 15, 2021
Yes, warming up and cooling down is not exciting and can be easy to skip and not do altogether. But DON'T DO THAT!
Your body requires that warm up and cool down to prevent unwanted injuries and problems later on.
Why is a warm up important? Your body isn't like a light switch that can be turned off and on to a setting instantly. Your body does need time to adjust to a different state from resting to exercising. Failure to do this can result in your body tensing, muscles tearing, joints becoming sore and damaged and your cardiovascular system becoming overloaded and not being able to respond quick enough to demand, not delivering essential nutrients and oxygen to the joints required in enough volume.
A warm up is designed to slowly mobilise your joints, warm your muscles and increase the amount of blood flowing through your body.
It will also start to lengthen muscle tissues, preparing them for your form of exercise.
A warm up can be a variety of small exercises but generally are gentle dynamic stretches. Such as walking, rotating your shoulders slowly, bringing your knees up towards your chest, any exercise that requires you to repeat a gentle movement, stretching certain muscle groups in a slow and consistent movement.
Do not do static stretches! I have done this myself many times before and thought this was the correct way to warm up but it is not, you do risk damaging your muscles!
Static stretches are the opposite to dynamic stretches. They are positions and poses that you hold for a set duration, pushing certain muscle groups to be stretched to their capacity.
If you do this when your muscles are 'cold'; i.e, from a resting state when your body temperature is not raised and the muscles having not been gently moved, you run the risk of tearing your muscles. Imagine it like one of those Refresher chews or another thin chewy sweet. When these sweets are warmer, you can chew them around and they will stretch and morph into different shapes with ease. When you have one of those sweets when it's very cold, they often crack and splinter. You don't want to do this to your muscles!
So I know they aren't particularly interesting but make sure you warm your body up before exercising. Your body will thank you for it!