Getting mentally and physically ready to exercise is a ritual that can prevent injuries and enhance the feelings of the workout. During this 20 minute period, you can prepare the muscles and mind for the experience.
Thousands of runners and walkers have reported injuries to me that were due to an inadequate warmup. Due to lack of patience, time constraints, running with a friend, and cool weather, it's easy to get into the flow of a workout for 10 minutes or more and suddenly realize that you have been pushing too hard. If you didn't have damage in a foot, knee, muscle, tendon, etc. before the workout, the increased pace often creates an environment for injury.
I don't recommend stretching because of the injury risk. If you have stretches that have worked for you and have not caused aches and pains, then go ahead—but be careful.
On a cold day, it helps to get the blood flow into the muscles before going outside or prior to getting on the treadmill. Here are some common ways of doing this:
Directing a warm shower on the legs, or soaking the legs in a warm bath or hot tub for 5-10 minutes
Using the Human Touch calf massage for 10-15 minutes—or getting a leg massage
Walking gently for 5 minutes
Alternating 5 seconds of jogging in place, with 10 seconds of walking
When outside temperatures are extremely cold, many exercisers put a few light layers of clothing during the walking and the jog/walk portion of the warmup. It's best to get the body temperature to rise a little, but you don't want to be sweating when you start the exercise. Peel off layers as needed.
By the time you go outside, you should be ready to face the elements with warmed up legs and feet.
Note: Over a million runners and walkers have attended Jeff Galloway clinics, running schools, wonderful retreats, training programs or read his books. To subscribe to his free newsletter visit www.JeffGalloway.com