*MCT photo
*MCT photo

The festive period is nearly over and that means all the eating and drinking is coming to an end. From countless Christmas office parties to sipping champagne on Elbow Beach, most of us in Bermuda will now be turning our attention to making New Year’s Resolutions.

This usually means keeping fit or getting in shape, the start of 2014 sees a huge increase in gym memberships across the island. In fact, about 45 per cent of people make resolutions and losing weight is always the most popular.

But when we make that resolution and decide to get down the gym, many of us fail to follow a comprehensive exercise programme and completely forget about the warm up component of the exercise routine. Most of us do not warm up and if we do, it’s not done properly. We usually skip the warm up as we either don’t have the time or do not fully appreciate the value of this component of our workout. Cool down periods are just a rarity. The warm up and cool down are often the most neglected part of the average workout. There are many benefits to an effective warm up. It provides us with a window to psychologically prepare ourselves for the exercise ahead. 

It should begin with a gradual increase in heart rate, blood pressure and oxygen consumption. This combined with dilation of the blood vessels and increased heat produced by the working muscles, helps to increase their elasticity and reduces the chances of pulling anything.

The cool down is notoriously neglected as well. What must be understood is that everything that was accelerated during the workout must be decelerated, in particular, the heart rate, respiration and overall metabolism. 

This ensures there will be adequate circulation to the muscles, heart and brain by preventing blood pooling, reducing the likelihood of dizziness and even fainting! 

So don’t hit the showers straight after you’ve finished, this is an integral part to the workout. Ideally, the warm up and cool down should each take about five minutes and both consist of two distinct components, flexibility and mobility exercises and a gradual aerobic activity like walking. 

Research has shown a correlation between proper warm ups and cool downs and improvement in overall performance, strength and fitness goals and a smaller risk of injury.

Get to the gym five minutes earlier and get that warm up done. You may regret it if you injure yourself and then you won’t be rushing to the gym for a while and become one of the 92 per cent of people who never achieve their resolution! I wish you all a fit and fabulous 2014. 

Email: colin.ayliffe@icloud.com

Colin Ayliffe is a certified Personal Trainer and Holistic Lifestyle Coach with over 10 years experience in training clients. He graduated from the University of Surrey with a Bachelor’s Degree in Sport Science and is also a CHEK Practitioner, Golf Biomechanic and accredited by the National Academy of Sports Medicine.