Warm up exercises are essential to prevent injury. You can make them fun and specific to your activity. Never miss another warm up again.

"By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail" - Benjamin Franklin.

Preparation is the key. Warm up exercises prepare you for your workout, help improve performance and prevent injury.

A good warm up is the introduction to your activity. The actual activity being the main body, cool down is the conclusion. Your workout isn't complete if any of these are missing.

What is a good warm up? There are 3 main stages of your warm up exercises.

1) Loosening Up Exercises

Think of these as "oiling" your joints. Move the following joints steadily in this order:

Toes, ankles, knees, hips, shoulders, neck, elbows, wrists and fingers.

You can move them up and down, side to side or in circular movements, depending on the joint. Repeat each movement 6 times before moving to the next. This will circulate the fluid in your joints, helping them move freely.

Take it easy, keeping each movement smooth. Sudden jerky movements at this point can be damaging. This isn't stretching.

2) Pulse Raising Exercises

Gradually warm your body and raise your heart rate with these exercises. Your cardiovascular system needs to prepare for activity, your muscles need to be warm so you can safely stretch them afterwards.

You should be breathing faster in this stage of your warm up exercises, but not out of breath. You could include:

Jogging, sidestepping, shuffling, dodging, pivoting, low jumps and skipping.

Be imaginative with your pulse raising exercises. Add to the ones above and adapt them to your activity. Make them fun and relevant.

Your activity could require hand-eye co-ordination, for example. So you could throw and catch a ball whilst jogging.

3) Warm Up Stretching

Static stretching (without bouncing) prepares your muscles for more strenuous activity by lengthening them gently. This goes a long way to prevent strains, pulls and other soft tissue injuries.

You should only start stretching once your muscles are warm. Move slowly in to and out of the stretch, hold it for at least 10 seconds.

There shouldn't be any feeling of pain during the stretch. Take it to the point where you only feel mild discomfort.

Spend at least the minimum time on stretching all your major muscle groups. Then focus on the specific muscles that you'll use in your activity.

Stay Injury Free

Get into the routine of doing warm up exercises. Don't forget your cool down after each workout too. It'll help you recover for next time.

Enjoy your warm up exercises and stay injury free.

Author's Bio: 

Please visit http://www.better-exercise-fitness-for-life.com/warm-up-exercises.html for more advice on warm up exercises and cool down. You'll also find stretching exercises for all the major muscle groups.

Asad Tufail is author and creator of http://www.better-exercise-fitness-for-life.com/ dedicated to helping you be happy and healthy. Find exercise, diet and equipment tips. With added focus on pilates, swimming and physiotherapy advice. If you aren't 100% happy with your body, help yourself and visit Better-Exercise-Fitness-For-Life.com today.

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