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Warm-Up, Cool-Down, or Both?
|Debate raged for the last 20 years over whether people should stretch before or after exercising. That question has been pretty well answered in the last few years - stretching is best done when the muscles are warm. By stretching after you've exercised, as a cool-down technique - you're able to achieve and retain your maximum stretchability.
Of course, some people may want to stretch first as well. If you're muscles are usually tight, stretching first does help prepare you for exercise. Just be sure to stretch slowly and carefully, paying full attention to what you're doing. Stretching is best approached as a Zen-type activity. See the muscle lengthening in your mind.
So if you're stretching as a cool-down, what do you do to warm-up? Light jogging is a good warm-up, if that's possible for you. Jumping jacks, walking lunges, knee hugs, arm rotations, ankle rotations, and carioca moves are excellent warm-up activities, preparing your body for the physical work of sports and exercise.
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