Walk New York to L.A.: Warm-Up Tips
Warm it up, cool it down, stretch it out
Stretching is not how you warm up. The idea is to get your core body temperature up a bit by using the large muscles of the thighs and butt and loosening those joints in preparation for a workout.
It needn’t be a big deal. Walkers can start with a 5- to 10-minute stroll. Joggers can start with a power walk. And runners often start with a light jog. If you’re preparing to lift weights, march or do a little dance in place, skip imaginary rope or hop on any of the gym machines for a few minutes.
How do you know you’re warmed up? You’ll breathe a little faster and deeper, and your skin will have a slight glisten.
Will it kill you not to warm up? Nope, but research has shown that warmed-up muscles are less susceptible to injury–think about how stretchy warm caramel is. Besides, most people prefer to slowly ramp up into their workout rather than jump right in.
The cool down is a slightly different matter. Most of us benefit from easing our heart rates down after exercise. Stopping cold can cause all of that circulating blood to head south and pool in your lower body, sometimes causing dizziness or even fainting.
Your cool down might be the walk from the track to your car, a few easy strokes after a hard swim or dialing down the intensity on the elliptical machine. Do it for 3 to 5 minutes, or longer if you’d like.
You’ll bring your heart rate down faster with deep breaths in through the nose and out through the nose or mouth.
Cooling down is a good idea, but not everybody wants to. We recommend it. It’s a great way to savor the end of your workout.
A good time to stretch is after your workout. Those warm muscles and joints will stretch and bend more easily, maximizing your stretch time. And although there is plenty of debate about the benefits of stretching, flexible muscles are thought to be less injury prone.
Even if you’re getting ready for a flexibility workout, it’s best to warm up. Walk around, do your dance or try some of the standing yoga poses–mountain, chair and tree poses will do the trick.