Use warm-up and cool-down activities to prepare kids for the beginning and end of running sessions.
Young kids are usually limber and don't need to stretch for the same reasons adults do. However, warm-up and cool-down routines are important for two reasons at this age:
Keep in mind that children this age should not be doing strenuous activities that require muscles to be "e;primed"e; or that risk injury.
Your warm-up and cool-down routines should include light jogging and fluid stretches. We also suggest a simple breathing exercise for the warm-up routine.
Warm-up and cool-down jogs are good to include before stretching if you have time. The warm-up and cool-down jogs should be done at a slow pace—walking is okay too—and can be anywhere from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.
Stretching routines should be fun and engaging and take kids though a range of fluid movements that build from slow to fast in the warm-up and from fast to slow in the cool-down. Recognize that some kids are more flexible than others and everyone should stretch only as far as is comfortable for them.
Our breathing activity helps kids remember to breathe during running. It's also a great mental focusing exercise. The most efficient breathing for runners is belly or diaphragm breathing, where the stomach extends upon the inhale and contracts upon the exhale. Rhythmic breathing is also good. Remind runners to breathe, but don't force a specific breathing method. By discussing breathing and practicing it while standing still, you can help students develop good habits that may translate to their running.