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What Exercise to Do Before Walking & Running?

author image Andrea Cespedes
Andrea Cespedes is a professionally trained chef who has focused studies in nutrition. With more than 20 years of experience in the fitness industry, she coaches cycling and running and teaches Pilates and yoga. She is an American Council on Exercise-certified personal trainer, RYT-200 and has degrees from Princeton and Columbia University.
What Exercise to Do Before Walking & Running?
Woman stretching legs before running Photo Credit: blyjak/iStock/Getty Images

If you step out your door and immediately start walking briskly or running, you may be putting yourself at risk of injury and cheating your workout. A warmup before either of these activities increases your core temperature so you burn calories more efficiently, enhances circulation to working muscles and improves your muscle elasticity. A warmup takes as little as five minutes, so you have no excuse to skip it.

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Basic Moves

Urban runner going up stairs
Urban runner going up stairs Photo Credit: Christopher Nuzzaco/Hemera/Getty Images

Prior to the main portion of your workout, do five minutes of an easy cardio activity. You could walk up and down the stairs in your house, march in place or simply walk a block or two at an easy pace. Next, focus on warming up the muscles you'll use during your walk or run with dynamic stretches. Circle your ankles six to eight times in each direction. Swing each leg 15 times front to back from the hip joint and then move them in a figure-8 motion for 10 to 20 repetitions. Plant both feet firmly on the ground and circle your hips 10 times each direction. Circle your arms and shrug your shoulders several times to loosen up your upper body. Other warmup activities might include lunges, squats and high knee hugs.

Static No-Nos

Woman stretching hamstring
Woman stretching hamstring Photo Credit: Kris Butler/iStock/Getty Images

You may be tempted to hold a hamstring or hip stretch for an extended time before your walk or run. Whether this is learned from high-school PE or an instinct, skip it. A meta-analysis published in a 2013 issue of the "Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Sport" concluded that static stretching before exercise may compromise your performance and doesn't prevent injury.

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