You should start an exercise session with a warm-up of about 5 to 10 minutes. Start by slowly stretching your muscles, and then gradually increase the intensity of your activity. For example, begin walking slowly and gradually pick up the pace.
After you are finished exercising, cool down for about 5 to 10 minutes. Stretch your muscles and let your heart rate slow down gradually. You can use the same stretching exercises you did during your warm-up period. If you are going to exercise your upper body, be sure to use stretching exercises for your arms, shoulders, chest, and back.
Warm-up and cool-down stretches
When performing any of the stretches described below, keep the following in mind:
Keep your breathing slow and natural. Do not hold your breath.
Move slowly and steadily. Avoid jerky movements to prevent injury.
Do not bounce while stretching. Bouncing can cause muscles to tear.
Only go as far as you feel comfortable. You should listen to your body and back away if you feel any pain.
Arm Stretch – Triceps
Raise your right arm above your head. Bend it until your elbow is pointed toward the ceiling and your hand is behind your head. Grasp your elbow with the left hand and lean gently toward the left. Try not to bend forward during the stretch. Hold for 20 seconds and then relax. Repeat 2 to 3 times on each side.
Arm Stretch – Biceps
Extend your arms behind your back, keeping your elbows straight. If possible, interlock your fingers with your palms facing inward. Slightly lift your arms up and toward the ceiling. Hold for 20 seconds and then relax. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
Extend your arms in front of your body, keeping your elbows straight. Avoid lifting your shoulders toward your ears. Interlock your fingers if possible, and gently pull forward to feel your shoulder blades stretching. Hold for 20 seconds and then relax. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
Face a wall, standing about 2 feet away from it. Keeping your heels flat and your back straight, lean forward slowly and press your hands and forehead to the wall. You should feel stretching in the area above your heels. Hold for 20 seconds and then relax. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
Face a wall, standing about 1 foot away from it. Support yourself by placing your right hand against the wall. Raise your right leg behind you and grab your right foot with your left hand. Gently pull your heel up toward your buttock, stretching the muscles in the front of your right leg for 20 seconds, and then relax. Repeat 2 to 3 times with each leg.
Squat down and put both hands on the floor in front of you. Stretch your left leg straight out behind you. Keep your right foot flat on the floor, and lean forward with your chest into your right knee. Gradually shift weight back to your left leg, keeping it as straight as possible. Hold for 20 seconds and then relax. Repeat 2 to 3 times with each leg.
Lie down with your back flat on the floor and both knees bent. Your feet should be flat on the floor, about 6 inches apart. Bend your right knee up to your chest and grab your right thigh with both hands behind your knee. Gradually straighten your right leg, feeling gentle stretching in the back of your leg. Hold for 20 seconds and then relax. Repeat 2 to 3 times with each leg.