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Stretching and warming up

Benefits of stretching and warming up

Before you begin either an aerobic or a strength training workout, be sure to stretch and warm up. Stretching and warming up before exercise:

  • helps move oxygen-filled blood into your muscles and joints, enhancing your range of motion
  • decreases risk of joint or muscle injury
  • helps maintain strength
  • relieves muscle tension and soreness
  • improves posture
  • increases relaxation
  • improves circulation
  • prepares your body for exercise.

How to stretch, warm up and cool down

Before beginning any exercise session, spend 4 to 5 minutes warming up to prepare your body for exercise. Use the stretching and toning exercises from your health care team.

Then, spend 5 minutes doing a low intensity, endurance exercise like walking or cycling without resistance. Begin exercising.

At the end of each exercise session, remember to cool down. Spend 3 to 5 minutes in low-level exercise, like the way you warmed up. Follow with gentle stretching.

This will help relax your muscles, improve your flexibility, and prevent getting stiff, sore muscles. Practice relaxation and meditation techniques for at least 10 minutes, if possible.

In general:

  • Perform the exercise plan recommended by your health care team at least 3 to 5 days each week.
  • Perform each exercise until you feel a mild stretch.
  • Take 10 to 30 seconds for each stretch.
  • Repeat each stretch slowly three to five times.



Source: Allina Health's Patient Education Department, Helping Your Heart, fourth edition, cvs-ahc-90648

First published: 10/04/2002
Last updated: 06/01/2007

Reviewed by: Allina Health's Patient Education Department experts