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Ever wonder why we stretch after a workout, and seem to wear ourselves out before the workout has even started? Recent research suggest that raising our heart rate for a period of 3 minutes, or longer, will increase our blood circulation and help prevent injury during intense exercise.
A proper warm-up should improve the blood flow to the working muscle, which results in decreased muscle stiffness and enhanced performance. The increased muscle temperature also increases the efficiency in which the muscle expands and contracts releasing more oxygen and improving endurance.
Stretching, on the other hand, provides no insurance against injury, but is still an essential part of any fitness program. Stretching is the only way to improve one’s range of motion and is the primary method for caring for one’s joints and ligaments. For best results, stretching should be performed when the muscle is warm and each posture held for at least 30 seconds. Long-term effects of stretching can be realized in about six weeks.
For more information on warm-ups and stretching please check out these articles on About.com:
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