Warm Up

Fun movements to help young athletes prepare their bodies for running.

Objective and overview:
This activity is designed to help your students learn the importance of preparing the body to run. They'll go through a series of stretching movements that will warm up their whole body. (Warming up is not as important for younger, casual runners as it is for older, more serious runners who are perhaps less flexible and who will be working harder. However, it's good to establish good warm-up habits.)

Time Required:
5–10 minutes (including discussion)

None required

Prepare for the Activity

Watch the Work It video below for a demonstration of a warm-up routine. This video provides a number of stretches and exercises that you can lead your students through.


Warms up 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 warm-up. Note that a warm-up is like alerting your body and letting it gradually get ready to work/play harder.

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 warm-up routine. Choose from the following list of exercises, or lead the students in your own exercises. Each exercise should last for about 20 seconds.
    • Reach up to the sky and down to the ground.
    • Bend over and swing side to side.
    • Do the twist.
    • Jump up and down.
    • Kick your bottom.
    • Wiggle and jiggle.
  4. Demonstrate each movement as you call it out.
  5. Start slowly, and gradually quicken the pace so energy levels increase.
  6. Don't be bound to only 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

Direction cues to share with students:

  • Offer any direction 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 Warm Up, 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 warm-up? (Warm-ups help prepare us for activity by getting our blood flowing and letting our muscles wake up slowly)
  • Why is it important not to stretch too far? (Overstretching could cause injury)
  • Why is it better to warm-up than to just go immediately into running or some other activity? (Your body will be better prepared; your muscles will be warmer and looser and ready to run)
  • What else is a warm-up good for? (It helps us to mentally prepare for the activity, to think about what's coming up)


  • Create your own routine.
  • After they've done several routines, ask students for suggestions for the next exercise.
  • Add an appropriate, upbeat soundtrack.
  • For younger students doing the wiggle and jiggle warm-up activity you can start with isolated areas, i.e. wiggle your fingers, now wiggle your arms, jiggle your legs, etc. and then wiggle and jiggle your entire body.

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 paired with verbal instructions.
  • Have students with minimal range of motion 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).


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