Dr Richa Kulkarni emphasises the importance of warming up before an exercise routine and shares some simple and effective warming up postures..Importance of exercise.Exercise is the key to a healthy life. It boosts your energy levels and keeps you active. It enhances body movements and also improves your metabolism, decreases insulin resistance and maintains cholesterol levels. Regular exercise reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 Diabetes and some types of cancer. Regular exercise also boosts the self-esteem of a person and keeps you mentally fit..Importance of warming up.Before any exercise routine, a warm-up is necessary. Before warming up, muscles lie in a resting state. Sudden exercise acts as a shock for the muscles and can lead to muscle stiffness and muscle soreness. Directly exercising without warming up can lead to soft tissue injury, minor injury and muscle spasm..Benefits of warming up.Warming up before exercise helps increase blood flow to the muscles which reduces muscle stiffness, reduces the risk of injury and activates the muscles for any form of exercise regime. Warm-up before exercising activates your metabolism which improves the response of an exercise regime. Warming up should always begin with a static warm-up followed by a dynamic warm-up..Static warm-up.Static warm-up involves single point movement of the body parts and helps in initiating a basic range of motion to the muscles. A static warm-up should be done for 1-3 minutes..Stretching: For the neck, stretches such as lateral and forward stretching and side stretching can be done. Upper body twist, hamstring stretch (stretching by keeping the legs straight), quad stretch (stretching the muscles of the thighs) and calf stretch (stretching the calf muscles by leaning against the wall) can be done. Shoulder rotations can be done to activate the shoulders..Dynamic warm-up.Dynamic warm-up improves the range of motion and activates leg, hip and core muscles. It strengthens muscles for an exercise regime and improves body awareness..Strengthening: for upper back and shoulder strengthening, one can do 10 bicep curls a day.Push-ups: Push-ups are an effective warm-up option for shoulder and upper back strengthening.Skipping: Skipping is recommended in people who are below 40 years. It is recommended to do 100-200 repetitions for 2-5 minutes.Squats: Squats strengthen thigh muscles and lower back muscles. It is recommended to do 20 squats a day.Lunges: Lunges help in strengthening leg muscles and help in weight loss. It is recommended to do 5 lunges a day.Hip rotations: Rotate your hips in clock and anti-clockwise direction. This will help activate your hip and backLeg swings: Leg swings can be done in lateral position by pulling in and pushing out and also can be done by moving the leg forward and backwards.PT exercises: PT exercises improve the range of motion and activate muscles for an exercise regime.Cardio: Cardio exercises such as static jogging, running and normal to brisk walk can be done if you don't have knee problems..Cooling down.After exercise, cooling down is important to relax the body. Sudden stopping of movement after exercise can cause pooling of blood in the legs and can also nausea. Cooling down loosens up the joints and increases the blood flow, reduces muscle stiffness and soreness, helps activate the central nervous system (CNS) and moderates blood circulation to maintain the performance level after exercise. A light jog or a medium brisk walk for 5 minutes could help the body cool down..General precautions.Keep yourself hydrated by drinking water in between the exercise.Wear the right shoes and use the right equipment for exercise, for example, use bicep curls and resistance band for strengthening.Always begin your exercise with a good warm-up and stretching session.Ensure that you take one or two recovery days in a week to relax your body muscles.Consult your physiotherapist to understand the right intensity of work out according to your fitness level.Report to your doctor if you get injured during exercise. Working out with the injury can further worsen the condition..Dr Richa Kulkarni is a Consultant Physiotherapist.