A good warm-up gets the blood flowing, increases your breathing rate and gets the body ready for more intense exercise. Start your warm-up with 10 minutes of aerobic activity at an easy pace that doesn't leave you out of breath, then finish it with stretches that loosen the muscles.
These exercises target the muscles used when walking. Warm up the ankles by standing on one leg and lifting the other leg in front of you. Flex the ankle slowly in a circular motion, using its full range of motion. Do at least six circles in one direction, then six more in the other before switching feet and repeating. Keep standing on one leg, then swing the other leg in a loose front-and-back motion from the hip. Swing the foot no higher than 1 foot from the ground, and repeat the move at least 15 times before switching to the other leg. To continue stretching the legs, do the same move as just described but trace a figure-eight with your leg. Make a circle behind the body and another in front of the body. Repeat 15 to 20 times per leg.
Hips and Torso
Open the pelvis by standing with your feet hip-width apart and making 10 circles with your hips. Reverse directions, then repeat. Hop in place with both feet, then start to twist your lower body and feet left, then right. Keep hopping and twisting from side to side 20 times.
These exercises loosen the muscles of the upper body, including the arms and shoulders. Stand up straight with the feet shoulder-width apart. Stretch your right arm up toward the ceiling for five counts, then repeat with your left arm. Stretch each arm five times, then shake out your arms. Continue stretching the arms and shoulders with arm circles. Standing with the feet shoulder-width apart, hold your arms straight out in a “T” position. Keep the stomach and buttocks tight, then make circle movements with your arms. Do the move forward 10 times, then backward 10 times.
Hands and Wrists
Stretch the thumbs by pulling each thumb downward gently and holding the position for five seconds. Repeat three times on each thumb. To stretch the fingers, spread the fingers out wide and hold the pose for five seconds. Repeat three times. Stretch the wrists by sitting in a chair with your feet flat on the ground. Place your palms together with the fingers pointing to the ceiling. Lower your forearms and hands toward your lap until the hands are at a 90-degree angle to your forearms. Hold the pose for five seconds, and repeat the stretch three times.
Poppy Carpenter graduated from the University of Missouri School of Journalism. In addition to teaching journalism to junior high students, she also covers health and fitness for "PUSH Monthly" and Angie's List.