Warm Up and Cool Down

Are you turned off by exercise because of body aches and pains? Being sore from physical activity is a common reason why many people stop being active. "Warming up" your muscles before you get your move on and "cooling down" afterward can minimize the discomfort of worked muscles. These are essential to any physical activity program and feel great too. Here are a few...

Benefits of Warming Up

  • A warm-up consists of a slow-to-moderate intensity activity that is performed in order to gradually prepare the body to perform sustained activity.
  • Gradually warms muscle temperature, decreasing the likelihood of injury and amount of work for active muscles.
  • Gradually increases blood flow to the heart and other active muscles.
  • Increases elasticity of connective tissue and other muscle components, and lubricates the joints.
  • Reduces the chance of tightness and soreness post-exercise activity, and fatigue during higher level activity.
  • Offers psychological preparation for chosen activity.
  • Your response during warm-up determines the likelihood of your ability to complete the chosen activity.

Walking Warm-up

Begin by making sure you have the appropriate shoes and clothing on for walking, and if possible, have a watch on hand for timing the duration of your walk.

Warm-up for at least 5-10 minutes (taking into consideration the chosen activity, duration of activity, and personal warm-up needs)

Start out walking with hands at your sides, moving them as naturally as possible (2 or 4 minutes approx.)

  • Pace will be slower-to-moderate and the focus is to acclimate yourself to being physical.
  • Think about rhythmic or controlled breathing (i.e. in through the nose and out through the mouth).
  • Slightly tighten your abdominal muscles to support good postural alignment.

Next, begin to pump arms* at your side increasing the pace to a more moderate intensity (about 3 to 6 minutes).

  • Keep breathing and allow your upper body and arms to respond to the movement of your lower body.

Once the warm-up is complete, you are ready to enter the main part of the walking program.

  • Try to remember breathing and postural cues while walking.

* Pumping arms requires the following:

  • Bend at the elbows to create a 90-degree angle.
  • Initiate a front-to-back movement of the arms from the shoulder joint.

Walking Cool-down

Begin by gradually decreasing the intensity and pace of your walk. At this point, you will be finished with the main part of your walking workout.

You will typically cool-down for at least 5-10 minutes, or for how ever long is necessary for you to decrease your heart rate and come to a more relaxed physical state

Begin by bringing your arms to your sides again (discontinue arm-pumping), swinging your arms from front to back as naturally as possible (2 or 4 minutes approx.)

  • Pace will become slower and the focus is to achieve a more relaxed physical state.
  • Think about rhythmic or controlled breathing (i.e. in through the nose and out through the mouth).
  • Postural alignment is still important during cool-down.

Continue to slow the pace and recognize any areas that may be tight and whether or not your heart rate has sufficiently decreased (3 or 6 minutes approx.)

  • Keep breathing and allow your upper body and arms to respond to the movement of your lower body.
  • If your heart rate is still elevated or you do not feel more physically relaxed, continue to reduce the pace or stop and rest.

Once the cool-down is complete, you are ready to begin stretching and continue with other scheduled activities

  • Remember to drink plenty of water to re-hydrate and keep yourself hydrated this also keeps you more flexible.
  • Take breaks during the day to stretch and remain limber.