Skipping A Warm Up Is Riskier Than You Think

Heading out the door and immediately speeding up to a full-out sprint. Walking into the gym and hitting the bench, pressing your maximum weight. Sure, it sounds tempting to dive right into your workout, but skipping a warm up could lead to greater risk of injury, and it could impact your performance as well.

For both cardio and strength-based workouts, a warm up doesn't need to be lengthy or feel monotonous, but it should allow your body to move in motions similar to what you'll be doing when you get down to the business of your workout, gently stretching and literally warming up muscles that you may not have used for a while. And the more sedentary you are at work — if you work seated in an office — the more you might need to warm up so that your muscles are ready for the work you're about to do (via HuffPost). 

"You're taking a big risk of getting injured if you don't take just 10 minutes to warm up before you work out," celebrity trainer Latreal Mitchell told Livestrong. That might mean something as simple as walking for a few minutes before gradually speeding up into a run, or doing a more involved dynamic stretch set.

What should you do to warm up?

Dynamic stretches — stretches that require movement throughout — are ideal for a pre-workout warm up, rather than static holds (think about the stay-in-place seated forward holds you did in gym class as a kid). Stretching out hip flexors with a series of lunges, whether you're running, cycling, or strength-training is a good starting point for office-bound workers. While in the lunge position, focus on pushing both hips forward to increase the stretch in your hips (via VeryWell Fit).

Dynamic stretches like lunges and squats (without weights) are optimal because you not only get a stretch, you start to warm up the body in a more cardio-based way: Do 25 squats and you'll likely be breathing harder by the end. "Warm-ups should help you feel good and get you to break a sweat," chiropractor R. Alexandra Duma told Livestrong. Aim for low to moderate intensity in your warm up, and you'll be ready to dive into your workout feeling strong.