Dean Wallace talking with two students

Warm Up and Cool Down

Sometimes people stop exercising because they get sore from going out for a run or doing something for the first time. “Warming up” your muscles before you get moving and the “cooling down” afterwards can help to minimize that discomfort.

Here are a few helpful tips on 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 increasing activity warms muscle temperature, decreasing the likelihood of injury and amount of work for active muscles.
  • It Increases the blood flow to the heart and other active muscles.
  • These warm-up can reduces the chance of tightness and soreness post-exercise activity and fatigue during higher level activity.
  • They also offer a psychological preparation for the chosen activity.

How to warm up for walking:

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

Warm up for at least 5-10 minutes

Start out walking with your hands at your side, moving them as naturally as possible (2-4 minutes).

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

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

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

Once the warm up is complete you are ready to enter the main part of walking for exercise.

How to do a walking cool down:

Begin the cool down by gradually decreasing your pace and intensity of your walk. 

A cool down should usually take 5-10 minutes, or however is long enough for you to decrease your heart rate and come to a more relaxed physical state.

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

  • Pace will become slower and the focus is to achieve a more relaxed physical state.
  • Think about rhythmic or controlled breathing
  • Make sure you have good postural alignment 
Continue to slow the pace and recognize any areas that might be tight and whether or not your heart rate has sufficiently decreased (3-6 minutes).