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Cool Down

Students learn a series of stretches for cooling down after running.

Tags: elementary school

Objective This activity is designed to help your students learn how to cool down after running. They’ll go through a series of stretching movements that will cool down their entire body and will prepare them to transition into post-running activity.

National Standards for Physical Education (NASPE)
Standards 1,2

New York State Education Department (NYSED)
Standard 1

Time Required 5–10 minutes (including discussion)
Materials None required

Prepare for the Activity

Watch the Cool It video below.


Events Play
Cool It ()
Cool It

Warm-up & Cool-down: Cools down and stretches the entire body.

Click here to access on Teacher Tube

Introduce the Activity

Tell the students you are going to lead them through a cool-down activity, to bring down their heart rate and bring their bodies down to a resting state—sort of like a jet cooling its engines after landing.


Conduct the Activity

  1. Have the students spread out at least an arm’s length apart from each other.
  2. Guide them through a series of stretching movements. Repeat each movement three times before moving to the next one.
  3. Spend about 2–3 minutes on your cool-down routine. Choose from the following list of exercises or lead the students in your own exercises. Each exercise should last for about 20 seconds.
    • March in place with high knees.
    • Twist gently like a rag doll.
    • Pick apples: reach up and down.
    • Do Hula-Hoops.
    • Do shoulder circles.
    • Wiggle and Jiggle it out.
  4. Demonstrate each movement as you call it out.
  5. Do the exercises at a nice, slow, fluid pace.
  6. Don’t be bound to just the above exercises. Be creative and keep students moving naturally, without overstretching or straining.

Assess the Students

What to watch for:

  • Fluid movements
  • Comfortable stretching without straining or overstretching
  • Gradual slowing of the heart rate/breathing

Direction cues to share with students:

  • Offer tips as necessary for students who aren’t sure of the movements.
  • “Stretch your muscles. Nice and gentle.”
  • “Remember to breathe.”

Note: Only give a student one direction at a time.


When you’ve completed Cool Down, talk to your students about their experience with the activity. Here are some sample questions to get you started:

  • Why do you think it’s important to cool down? (Cool-downs help our bodies to slow down gradually and relax and stretch our muscles after all of their hard work. Cool-downs get us ready for what we’re doing next.)
  • Why is it important not to stretch too far? (Overstretching could cause injury)


  • Create your own routine.
  • After they’ve done several routines ask students for suggestions for the next exercise.
  • Add a soothing soundtrack for them to cool down to.

Inclusion Strategies

Classrooms are filled with learners who demonstrate a variety of needs and abilities, including ESL students, those with disabilities, and gifted/talented students. Consider these adaptations as you work to modify the lesson for student success.

  • If students are chair users, have them out of the chair and on a mat to be at the same level as their peers (have peers sit on the ground and stretch).
  • Partner stretching: Students can interact with each other and work on mirroring each other.
  • Have visual aids and along with verbal instructions.
  • For students with minimal range of motion, have them use stretching bands, or have them reach out as far as they can for an object and then back to a normal position.
  • Slow down the counting or do two sets of 10 so the students who take a longer time to process the change in movement will be able to catch up and have an adequate stretch.
  • Have the students push and pull against objects to get deep pressure sensations (push on mats, the wall, floor).