Do I need to warm up before I exercise?
It’s generally accepted that a warm up is a part of any workout routine. There is some controversy in the scientific community over whether or not a warm up improves athletic performance; but we do know it poses little risk, and some still claim that it is the most important part of a workout routine.
Whether it improves performance or not, a warm up prepares you physically for aerobic activity by increasing blood flow to the muscles, improving oxygen uptake to the body, and warming the core body temperature. Since cold muscles are more likely to tear, it’s speculated that a warm up will also prevent injury and soreness.
The best way to warm up
Warming up can be done through either a passive or an active warm up.
Most of us are familiar with the active warm up, which involves moving your body to get your heart rate up. You can jog, bike, or jump rope, but the point is to get your heart rate and body temperature.
Less common but still effective is the passive warm up: using a hot shower, steam bath, massage, or hot tub. The passive warm up has the same goal as the active warm-up – to increase heart rate, core temperature and warm the muscles.
So which should you do, and what is more effective?
Passive warm ups versus active warm ups
Unfortunately, there is currently no set standard on the best way to warm up, and hundreds of research papers done on this topic give mixed results.
To add to the confusion, some fitness experts recommend either the passive or the active warm up based on the type of exercise being performed, as well as the length of the workout.
Luckily, there is a way to combine both – with a hot tub!
How to warm up in a hot tub
A hot tub takes the guesswork out of your warm up routine. You can easily prepare yourself mentally and physically for your workout by soaking for about 10-15 minutes in a hot tub. Not only is this an effective way to warm up – it’s fun too!
It’s common practice among professional athletes to mentally prepare themselves before a workout. A hot tub is a perfect place to do this.
Do you want to run an extra mile that day, or finish your entire workout without stopping? As you are relaxing in the hot tub, you can set your personal workout goals for that day, and visualize yourself completing them.
Soaking in a hot tub will passively warm up your muscles and raise your body temperature, effectively preparing your body for exercise. Once your muscles are warm, you can actively stretch your muscles without risking the injury that can come from stretching cold muscles.
In addition, the buoyancy of the water in the hot tub will support your body as you perform many of the same stretches that you can perform on land.
After about 10-15 minutes, your mind and body will be prepared for your workout.
Remember to cool-down, rehydrate, and refuel after a workout to bring your heart rate and body temperature back to normal levels.