Cool-Down Activities for Middle School Students
By Catherine Morris
Just like warming up, cooling down after heart-pounding activity is essential for middle-school students. Cool-downs close out the session while safely returning kids’ heart rates and blood pressure to normal. Cooling down also helps kids avoid injury, perform better at their next workout, and achieve more of their physical activity goals—all major pluses when trying to instill a love of running in tweens and teens.
INSTRUCTIONS: Use these cool-down activities (also located on the Session Cards) to cool down your middle-school runners after each run club session.
- WINDSTORM: Pretend to be trees in a windstorm, with wind blowing arms as branches. Start while the windstorm is strong and blowing hard, and finish as the wind calms and blows more softly.
- CAT STRETCH: Start on hands and knees, with a flat back. Take a deep breath in and arch back so that belly is moving down towards the ground and shoulders move back so “cats” can look upward. Exhale and reverse the curve in the back as the “cats” look downward and stretch their backs.
- COOL DANCE: Slow-motion dance for 30 seconds, then rest. Repeat until cool.
- DON’T ‘SKIP’ THIS: Skip for a designated distance, gradually reducing speed until skipping slowly in one place. Reduce to a march, then to a walk in place.
- SKY HIGH: Reach up and touch the sky for 20 seconds. Next, reach down and touch toes for 20 seconds. Repeat until cool.
- GROUP WALK: Walk together as a team. Go slowly enough so you don’t leave anyone behind. Keep walking for at least 1/4 mile, until cool.
- BEACH TIME: Pretend to be at the beach, walking through deep sand, jumping over waves and shaking off sand. Continue until cool.
- BUTTERFLY STRETCH: Sit on the ground with knees bent and feet touching (legs look like butterfly wings). Slowly flap wings 15 times. Rest, then repeat until cool.
- CLIMB THE LADDER: Pretend to be climbing a really tall ladder. Stretch out arms and knees. Do this for 30 seconds, rest briefly as needed, and repeat until cool.
- TOUCH YOUR TOES: Sit with legs outstretched, shoulder-width or more apart. Lean forward and try to touch toes, one leg at a time. Hold for 30 seconds. Repeat until cool.
- MUSCLE MIX: Coach calls out two body parts (ex: elbow to knee, hand to foot). Runners find a partner and perform the activity. Coach changes the “muscle mix” each round.
- MARCHING BAND: March in place for 30 seconds, pumping knees high and arms from side to side. Rest briefly, then repeat until cool.
- QUAD STRETCH: Stand, reach backwards and grab left ankle with right hand, bending knee. Work on balance. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat until cool.
- COPY CAT: Kids take turns to demonstrate their favorite stretch while the group copies. Remember to stretch gently and slowly. Repeat until cool.
- GROUND DOWN: Stand with feet shoulder-width apart. Touch the ground for 20 seconds. Touch right foot for 20 seconds. Switch legs. Repeat until cool.
- RUNNER’S CHOICE: Have each runner pick a favorite cool-down exercise to perform for 30 seconds. Rest briefly, then repeat until cool.
- OBSTACLE COURSE: Set up a simple obstacle course. Ideas include zigzagging between cones or hopping over imaginary lines. Repeat at a slow (walking) pace until cool.
- SNOW ANGELS: Walk in place until heart rate slows. Then, make snow angels on the ground for 20 seconds. Rest briefly, then repeat until cool.
- HEEL, TOE: Walk in circles on heels for 20 seconds. Walk in circles on tiptoes for 20 seconds. Repeat until cool.
- SHARKS AND FISH: One runner is a shark. The other runners are the fish. Whatever the shark does, the fish have to copy. Repeat until cool.
- STRETCH AND SPELL: Use your body to spell out “Marathon Kids,” one letter at a time. Hold each letter for three seconds. Repeat until cool.
- RED LIGHT, GREEN LIGHT: Act like cars while Coach calls out a traffic light color. Run on green. Walk on yellow. Stop on red. Call out fewer green lights, and more yellow and red ones. Repeat until cool.
- CALF STRETCH: Start in push-up position. Bring one knee forward. Try to touch the heel of your other, outstretched foot to the ground. Hold for 20 seconds, then switch legs. Repeat until cool.
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