Warming down your body after an activity is as
important as warming up. Abruptly ending an
activity can leave you light-headed. A warm-down helps your heart rate return to normal and
flushes toxins—the most common being lactic
acid—reducing muscle, tendon and joint stiffness
“A warm-down could be simply doing the
activity at a lower level, or it can involve a
different, less intense activity, stretching or all of
the above,” Kyle explains.
Even with proper stretching and warming down,
some soreness is common. Hey, no pain, no gain,
Persistant soreness that makes day-to-day
activities difficult could be a problem and might be
something you want to watch. Chest pain of any
kind is a definite red light, calling for a visit to your
doctor. Kyle adds that any persistent pain definitely
warrants a follow-up; “Any swelling, or popping
sensation or loss of function shouldn’t be ignored.”
“General muscle soreness is not a bad thing,”
says Fiona Yeoman, a personal trainer at
Calgary’s Talisman Centre for Sport and Wellness.
“It might be sore or difficult to do some things but
it shouldn’t stop you from living your life.” a
“No pain, no gain,” right? Wrong.
Persistent soreness could be a problem.
Warming up prepares your heart, lungs and
muscles for activity, by gradually increasing your
body’s core and muscle temperatures and your
heart and respiratory rates. This helps your body
adapt to more strenuous work.
Most warm-ups involve basic cardio activity,
like a light jog or jumping jacks. You can also start
with a less intense version of the activity you are
warming up for; for example, going on a slow bike
ride before a fast sprint.
Once your body is warm, stretching can be
beneficial. (See “Stretch It Out” on page 40.) It will
lengthen your muscles and keep you flexible, as
well as take some pressure off your joints, explains
Patrick Toner, a physiotherapist at the Beaumont
Physiotherapy and Sports Injury Clinic. Stretching
will also help ease soreness in the days after your
activity and decrease the chance of injury.
Hydration is key to keeping healthy when active.
“A lot of times people think: ‘If I’m not sweating,
I’m not losing water.’ But more water is lost
through breathing,” says Patterson. As we age, our
heart’s ability to pump fluids through our body
diminishes and we are more susceptible to the
effects of dehydration.
But, you can over-hydrate and make yourself
sick. Kyle advises asking your health-care
professional about your individualized needs.
You’ll want to adjust how much you’re drinking
based on the weather, how long you’re outside and
what you’ve eaten that day.