All of your runs should start with a warm-up and end with a cool down. Why are they so important? A good warm-up dilates your blood vessels, ensuring that your muscles are well supplied with oxygen. It also raises the temperature of your muscles for optimal flexibility and efficiency. By slowly raising your heart rate, the warm-up also helps minimize stress on your heart when you start your run.
Just as important, the cool down keeps the blood flowing throughout the body. Stopping suddenly can cause light-headedness because your heart rate and blood pressure drop more rapidly. Winding down slowly allows them to fall gradually.
Here's how to do a proper warm-up and cool down.
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