Q: How important is the warm up and cool down to my workout? How much time, if any, should I devote to this?
A: Warming up and cooling down are always recommended and for good reason… the body’s tissues, especially muscles, respond to load much better when they are warm. The warming up process should include whole body exercise (jogging, cycling, the sport itself at low intensity) that increases blood flow to muscles and makes then more responsive.
The length of the warm-up phase will depend upon the ambient temperature (the warmer it is, the less time needed to become warm) and what is going to be done. Warming up for an exercise session may take as little as ten minutes, whilst warming up for demanding sports training or competition can take 30 minutes or more.
At the end of every training session, all sports performers will cool down, bringing their body back down to normal, usually through low intensity activity, followed by flexibility exercises. As with the warm up phase, the time course is adjusted according to what has been done.