Before You Walk

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As with any fitness or exercise program, please consult your healthcare provider before beginning this walking intervention or any other program. Think about Play-Doh. Straight out of the can, it crumbles and resists any attempts to change its form. But warm it up in your hands first and it becomes pliable, smooth putty that can be rolled and molded to your whim. OK, muscles aren't Play-Doh, but if you get the idea of how valuable a little warm up can be to that all-American kiddie putty, you'll get the gist of what Judy R. Sotosky, a physical therapist in Virginia Beach, Va., wants you to understand about exercise and warm ups: Don't do one without doing the other first.

What are the benefits of a warm up?
Many trainees wonder how important stretching and warming-up is prior to (or after) a workout. Recent research sheds some light on that subject with regards to two different variables:

  1. assistance in reducing injuries
  2. reduction in muscle soreness
  3. contribution to performance during the walking session
  4. increases blood flow through active tissues to increase metabolism

Below is a suggested warm-up routine

  1. BREATHING - Lift arms up and inhale, bring arms down and exhale.
  2. SHOULDER FLEXION - both arms raised overhead then relaxed to sides (like a touchdown signal) 7 reps
  3. SHOULDER ABDUCTION - both arms at sides, raise outward and upward over head then relax to sides (jumping jacks without the jump) 7 reps
  4. SHOULDER SHRUGS - 7 reps
  6. ELBOW FLEXION/EXTENSION - bend and straighten elbows fully (muscle man) 7 reps
  7. SHOULDER CIRCLES - armas at sides rotate shoulders in circles 7 reps forward, 7 back
  8. PALMS UP/PALMS DOWN - 7 reps
  10. BEND WRIST - to little finger side then thumb side 10 reps
  11. SPREAD FINGERS - squeeze together 10 reps
  12. BEND FINGERS - at outermost joints keeeping base joints straight, as in a hook 10 reps
  13. PICKING FRUIT - fully extend arms, grasp fruit and pull down- 10 reps
  14. ARM CIRCLES - put arms out to sides and circle, varying the size (S, M, L)- 10 reps each
  15. WINDMILLS - sit on the edge of chair, spread legs, hold arms out to sides. Reach right arm to left foot and left arm to right foot- 10 reps