If you are someone who likes to walk for fitness, it’s a good idea to properly warm up and cool down before and after you go on a walk.
Benefits of a Proper Warm Up
- Increased Body Temperature – This improves muscle elasticity, also reducing the risk of strains and pulls.
- Increased speed of contraction and relaxation of warmed muscles
- Warming up helps to increase your flexibility, which will enable you to stretch further and push yourself harder during your work out.
- Facilitated oxygen utilization by warmed muscles because haemoglobin releases oxygen more readily at higher muscle temperatures
- Allows the heart rate get to a workable rate for beginning exercise
I want to show you a few simple exercises you can do, to make it a little bit more comfortable on your muscles.
At first, I want you to do a few simpe dynamic stretches. Dynamic stretches to get the blood flowing
Start with Heel Raises
Do 2 sets of 15-30 reps.
Go ahead with Ankle Circles
Do 10 circles with each foot.
Now your muscles are warmed up and it’s time for a few static stretches.
Hold the stretch for 15-30 second on each leg.
Psoas / Hip Flexor Stretch
10 reps per leg / 15-30 seconds each leg.
Hold the stretch for 20-30 seconds.
Here’s an article for a good general warm-up routine no matter what sports you do.
When you are done warming up go easy on the first few minutes of your walk until you feel warmed up. Now that you have warmed up you should be ready to complete your walk at your normal walking pace
Why you should cool down
The main purpose of cooling down is to bring your breathing, body temperature and heart rate back to normal slowly.
During the cool down routine you are allowing the blood to properly redistribute itself to the heart.
This redistribution helps rid the muscles of lactic acid which can build up around the muscles during an aerobic workout. A cool-down should include flexibility and mobility exercise techniques focused on improving muscle/soft tissue elasticity, and joint mobility of all major muscles and body segments utilized during the exercise session.
- Reduces the risk of post-exercise cramping or spasm.
- Assists in the decrease of post-exercise stiffness and muscle soreness.
- May decrease the risk of injury.
- Begins the recovery process, preparing the body for the next workout.
How to Cool Down
On the last 5 minutes of your walk keep walking slower in orer to bring your heart rate down, at the end of your walk you may want to repeat the stretches you did in your warm-up.
Here’s a short video about cooling down:
Note this video is on running but the same rules apply for walking.
Image from Christopher Haugh