After a Walk

After a walk, take time to cool down, check in with the group, and wrap things up with these activities.

Take a Head Count

  • Count heads to make sure that all walkers are accounted for. If any walkers are missing, check with fellow walkers to find out if they left early or try contacting them by cell phone.

Cool Down

Cooling down at the end of your walk gives your muscles a chance to gradually return to rest. This is important to prevent injury. To cool down, take about 5-10 minutes to do any or all of the following Go4Life flexibility exercises. The walk leader(s) may wish to print the photos of the exercises and instructions and read them to the group as they stretch.

A mature African-American woman leaning on a railing, stretching her leg.

  • Thigh Stretch — Use a tree, a wall, a railing or another sturdy surface for this exercise which stretches your thigh muscles. If you’ve had hip or back surgery, talk with your doctor before trying this stretch.
  • Ankle Stretch — Use a bench or chair for this exercise, which stretches your ankle muscles. You can stretch both ankles at once or one at a time.
  • Calf Stretch — Use a tree, a wall, a railing or another sturdy surface for this exercise. Because many people have tight calf muscles, it’s important to stretch them.
  • Neck Stretch — This easy stretch can help relieve tension in your neck.

Stretch Safely

  • Do each stretch slowly and move only as far as you feel comfortable.
  • Stretching may feel slightly uncomfortable; for example, a mild pulling feeling is normal.
  • Always remember to breathe normally while holding a stretch.
  • You are stretching too far if you feel sharp or stabbing pain, or joint pain while doing the stretch, or even the next day. Reduce the stretch so that it doesn’t hurt.
  • Never “bounce” into a stretch. Make slow, steady movements instead. Jerking into position can cause muscles to tighten, possibly causing injury.
  • Avoid “locking” your joints. Straighten your arms and legs when you stretch them, but don’t hold them tightly in a straight position. Your joints should always be slightly bent while stretching.

Chart Progress

  • Encourage walkers to total up miles individually and as a group. For example, over time the group may have walked the equivalent of the distance between Boston and New York.

Group of 6 older men talking outside

Debrief

  • Schedule a healthy breakfast or lunch or go for coffee after a walk to promote sociability.
  • Ask each walker to share with another walker what they got out of the walk.
  • Have a group share of a few walking experiences.
  • Announce the date and time for the next walk and ask who will be attending.

Get Home Safely

  • Arrange to end the walk where you started or at a location convenient for transportation.
  • Make sure that each walker has a way home. If someone is stranded, offer to assist, ask if any other walkers might take that person home, or offer to call a taxi or other transportation resource.