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Running Essentials: Warming Up and Cooling Down

Your body needs time to warm up before you hit the road and start running. It's also important to allow some time to cool down after you finish your run.

Warming up before a run

A warm-up is not a few haphazard stretches. If you want to warm up, try any sort of movement, such as walking, slow jogging, cycling on a stationary bike, or even just some easy calisthenics. Moving like this for at least 5 to 10 minutes is designed to gradually raise the body’s core temperature, loosen up the muscles, and ease the body into a run.

Brisk walking is the ideal warm-up for running. The perfect way to get your body ready for a little more serious action is to walk a lap or two around the track or a few blocks around your neighborhood. And don’t take off like an Indy 500 driver when the green flag drops when you do start walking. Begin slowly and gradually pick up the speed.

Cooling down after a run

You’ve finished your run. What’s the first thing you should do? Stop, right? Wrong. Keep moving. That’s the way to prevent the blood from pooling in the legs and keep it circulating back through the heart and into the brain. (People sometimes feel dizzy if they suddenly stop moving after a hard workout.)

A post-workout cool-down after you finish running keeps the blood flowing. The blood flow, in turn, can help minimize soreness by flushing out the waste products that build up as a result of running. Five to 10 minutes of walking after a run is a cool way to cool down.

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