- The Importance Of Cooling Down After Exercise
- What is the Cool Down?
- Why Do I Need to Cool Down?
- Lowering Heart Rate
- Limiting Muscle Soreness
- Increased Flexibility
- Lowering Body Temperature
- How Do I Structure a Cool Down?
- Why You Should Always Cool Down
- How to Cool Down the Right Way
- The 5 Cool-Down Moves You Need to Master
- Do I Really Need to Cool Down After a Workout?
- Physio Works – Physiotherapy Brisbane
- Cool Down
- Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip Your Cool-down After Exercise
- Training Tips >> How Cooling Down Can Help You Run Faster Times
- Why you should always do a cool-down run
- You should run slower than your base training pace
- An expert tip: run your cool-down barefoot
- How long should your cool-down be?
- The last training stimulus has the biggest effect
- Benefits of Cooling Down
- Cooling Down Muscles After Exercise
- The Cool Down Routine
- Stretching After Exercise
The Importance Of Cooling Down After Exercise
Raise your hand if you’re guilty of skipping cool down after a workout. We’ve all done it. There’s no need to be shy. Because, yes, a cool down can seem like a waste of time, especially when you’re a busy person with places to go and people see. The problem with skipping cooldown is that you are missing an integral piece of the workout that has numerous benefits. In other words, by shaving off your cooldown, you are affecting the results of your effort.
Not cool, right? (Pun intended.)
Here is everything you need to know about the importance of cool down, including some tips on how to maximize your cool down’s effectiveness. Let’s get started.
What is the Cool Down?
Let me first describe what a cooldown is not. A cool down isn’t dropping to the ground after your final set and laying there in a pool of sweat. A cool down isn’t standing around in a circle at the gym and talking about lunch with your friends.
A cool down happens at the end of a rigorous period of physical activity, where you continue moving your body but more slowly. For example, if you just finished up the final leg of HIIT sprinting, you will slow from a jog to a brisk walk. You do this walk for about 2 minutes, then you continue your cool down with some static stretching.
Looking at this from a group exercise class structure, the cooldown is when you listen to soothing music and do various stretches for about 5 minutes while focusing on the breath.
Why Do I Need to Cool Down?
The main goal of a cooldown is the help the body recovery by returning it to the homeostatic state it was at prior to working out. A cool down, when done properly, can prompt the recovery response to help with healing the stressed muscle fibers, tendons, ligaments, joints, and central nervous system.
Lowering Heart Rate
When you stop immediately after a vigorous exercise, you increase the risk of passing out, nausea, and for some, a heart attack. Intense exercise should be coupled with a longer cooldown since it might take longer than 5 minutes to return the heart rate back to normal. Stop only when your heart rate is below 120 beats per minute.
Limiting Muscle Soreness
Although scientific studies have concluded that a cool down itself does nothing to reduce DOMS, it can help limit stasis dermatitis.
Stasis dermatitis is a result of blood pooling beneath the skin and in the muscles. When you have an insufficient venous return, there is increased pressure in the capillaries (the smallest of veins in the body), and these results in leakage. The skin turns brown as the red blood cells and iron starts to die.
In other words, a cool down will prevent more than a skin condition. By using the breath and facilitating a calmer circulation throughout the body, you are helping shuttle lactic acid away from the affected muscles, flushing blood back to the heart, and reducing any swelling and pain that could result from blood pooling and micro-tears.
One of the most important factors of the cooldown is increasing your flexibility. Since the muscles are warmed up and a bit more elastic, you can use your cooldown to help you with stretching. While stretching is not going to reduce your chance of injury (as too much flexibility increases joint instability), flexibility will keep your muscles from becoming too tight and stiff.
Recommended stretching includes:
- Standing toe touches (Forward Fold) or seated toe touch
- Deep lunges with a torso twist
- Figure 4 stretches
- Side stretch
- Upper chest stretches
Hold each stretch for about 10-20 seconds. Remember that your stretching should never be painful, and you should never force the stretch. Breath through the static hold. You can also incorporate some active stretching (like moving through the downward dog and upward dog poses) as well, but static stretches are best for your cool down.
Lowering Body Temperature
Working out inevitably increases your body temperature. You don’t want an increased temperature for too long, because this will exacerbate the stress on your body and worsen your condition. As you cool down, be sure to drink enough fluids. Depending on how hard you worked, you should focus on replacing 2 cups of fluids for every pound of fluid lost.
However, if you only worked out for 30 minutes and didn’t sweat much, you won’t need to worry about replacing your fluids.
How Do I Structure a Cool Down?
Your cooldown is just that—yours. Therefore, how you choose to cool down will be based on what you need mentally and physically at the moment. Usually, a cooldown is about 5-10 minutes. Movements are slow, controlled, and breathing is emphasized.
According to the Australian Sports Commission and ACSM, a cool down should do the following:
- Stretch every muscle of the body that had been used in the workout
- Use gentle movements
- Never be dynamic or bouncy
- Be timed with the breath (never hold your breath while stretching)
- Brings the heart rate below 120 beats per minute
You can also do some self-myofascial release at the end of your workout.
Cooldown is most effective after long bouts of cardio or aerobics, but it is appropriate for everyone. Cooling down increases your flexibility safely encourages the recovery of lost fluids, and can help with muscle repair.
Now that you know about cooldowns, it’s time to learn more. Fill out the contact form to receive updates and notifications right to your inbox. Empower your mind, empower your workout.
The post The Importance Of Cooling Down After Exercise appeared first on Gaspari Nutrition.
You just finished a killer workout – yay! Time to kick off your shoes or hop off your bike and head to the closest shower or breakfast buffet, right?
Not so fast.
Even though the hard part may be over, no workout is complete until you’ve sufficiently cooled down. A cool-down workout may seem tedious, boring, or just plain hard after wrapping up a hard effort, but it’s a crucial part of training. Here’s why.
Why You Should Always Cool Down
“During a workout, we physically feel hot because our bodies are working overtime to pump blood to the heart, lungs, and muscles,” says Mary Johnson, founder of Lift.Run.Perform. “So allowing our bodies to gradually decrease our core and muscle temperature is really important.” Scientifically speaking, cooling down helps prevent the buildup of blood in the veins, and helps prevent dizziness or fainting. An increased body temperature also creates more elasticity in the muscles and tendons, so ending a workout with an intentional stretch session helps improve flexibility and range of motion.
But perhaps most importantly, cooling down provides a strong psychological benefit. “Ending a hard bike workout with some easy pedaling isn’t just refreshing, it also helps reconnect our brains to our bodies, and brings us back to homeostatis,” Johnson explains.
How to Cool Down the Right Way
Instead of looking at your cooldown as the annoying extra, time-sucking part of your workout, consider it a reward for all your hard work. And a cooldown shouldn’t feel challenging. “Take it easy on the cooldown,” says Johnson. “The work is done – there’s no need to continue pushing your body.” When you move into the stretching phase of the cooldown, hold each stretch for at least two minutes. “Studies have suggested little to no changes to muscle and tendon fibers unless a stretch is held for two minutes or more,” Johnson says.
Johnson also suggests using your cooldown as a time to stay focused. “Don’t listen to music while you cool down,” she says. “There’s something so satisfying about replaying your hard effort quietly and meditatively.” And while a cool-down stretch may not ward off soreness (sorry!), it does help your body properly return to a resting state. Once you get to that point, refuel with at least 20 to 25 grams of protein within 30 minutes of your workout.
The 5 Cool-Down Moves You Need to Master
A cool-down routine doesn’t have to take long or feel complicated. Here are the five moves Johnson says every athlete should embrace after a workout.
- Foam roll for 5 minutes
- Hold a “Brettzel” stretch for the length of five deep belly breaths, then repeat on the opposite side
- Relax in pigeon pose for two minutes on each side
- Hold a hip flexor stretch for two minutes on each side
- Lie on your back with your legs up the wall for five to 10 minutes
Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals or physicians. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.
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Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.
Do I Really Need to Cool Down After a Workout?
We hear a lot about the importance of an effective warm-up, but what’s less discussed is the importance of a cooldown. I bet many would admit to skipping the cooldown. After a tough workout, most of us are ready to relax, not to continue exercising. We wonder, “Do I really need to cool down after exercising?”
Yes, cooldowns are important, but really only after higher-intensity workouts. An efficient and effective cooldown is typically short (about 10 minutes) and soothing, and will feel like the perfect way to complete your workout.
The science behind the cooldown has been debated in the sports-science world. It used to be thought that a cooldown after your workout would prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), but recent studies have shown that this is not the case.
Though cooling down might not help soothe DOMS, there are other benefits to cooling down, like bringing your heart back to a normal rate. Stopping exercise too abruptly might make your heart rate drop too fast, and could cause dizziness and even fainting.
After an intense workout, a short walk or jog will bring your heart rate back down slowly. Once you’ve slowed your heart rate, the next part of your cooldown should include a combination of static, functional stretching and muscle releases.
When you exercise, your muscles spend that time constantly lengthening and shortening. Static stretching will help your muscles deactivate and calm down after all of that activity. Stretching post-workout can also help increase your flexibility.
Here are some excellent stretches to do post-workout:
King Cobra Stretch
Generally, people overuse their hip flexors. When you are exercising, I can almost guarantee that you are overworking your hip flexors. The king cobra is a great stretch to open up your hips.
- Lie on your stomach with palms of hands down and turned out. Your arms should be slightly wider than shoulder-width apart.
- Slide one leg up and turn out, keeping the other leg turned in.
- Push shoulders off the floor until your arms are straight. Keep your shoulder blades down and back.
- Keep your hips down on the floor with elbows close to your sides. Squeeze your glutes.
- Look up and twist to the side of your bent leg.
- Hold for 30 seconds on each side.
Your piriformis is a deep external rotator, meaning it helps rotate the femur outward when the hip extends (and is an internal rotator in hip flexion past 90 degrees, if you want to get technical). The piriformis tends to get tight and cause all sorts of aches and pains, including sciatica. Stretching this muscle will help it maintain proper resting length, avoiding tightness and overuse.
- Start in a standing, straight position
- Place the outside of your raised leg on a cushioned tabletop or bed in front of your body, with the knee bent and your shin as close to parallel to the bed as possible.
- Keep your foot flexed.
- Position one: Twist your torso toward your raised foot. Fold toward your raised leg, raising the top arm above the head. Return to a standing position.
- Position two: Keeping the torso squared straight, fold toward your raised leg, extending your arms above your head and resting on the table. Return to a standing position.
- Position three: Twist your torso toward your raised knee. Fold toward your raised leg, raising the top arm above the head. Return to a standing position.
- Hold each position for 30 seconds.
Standing Cross-Legged Hamstring Stretch
You’ll feel this stretch, performed different ways, in both your medial and lateral hamstring, as well as in your lower back.
- Place your left leg in front of the right leg and bend forward, keeping your right knee locked.
- Reach both hands to the inside of your right foot to stretch your lateral hamstring and lower back. Use your abdominals to bend forward to allow a stretch of your lower back as you bend from the hip (and not from your upper or mid back).
- Reach your hands outside of your right foot to stretch your medial hamstring and lower back.
- Reach your hands forward to stretch your entire hamstring and lower back.
- Repeat on the opposite leg.
When you work out really hard, you can start to overwork certain muscles, which can lead to injury. Releases aid recovery and loosen the tight muscles that can get overworked during exercise.
Here are the main releases I recommend for cooling down:
Hip Flexor Release
- Equipment needed: Tape two lacrosse balls together to use during this release.
- Lie on your stomach, and place the double lacrosse ball just below your hip bone. Lean a tolerable amount of weight onto the balls.
- Bend the knee on the side you wish to release back to a 90-degree angle. Swing your leg side to side in a tolerable range of motion.
- Repeat in 30-second intervals for 2 minutes.
Outer Quad Release
- Equipment needed: foam roller.
- Lie on the side you wish to release.
- Place the foam roller under your bottom leg halfway between your hip and your knee.
- Slide your leg up and down along the foam roller, moving it from the top of the knee to the base of the hip. Try to work over the more tender areas (as you can tolerate).
- Repeat in 30-second intervals for 2 minutes.
- To focus on a specific area of the IT band, locate the most tender spot with the foam roller. Your IT bands are the band of fibrous tissue that runs down the outside of the thighs, and works with the quadriceps to stabilize the knee joint during movement.
- Bend your knee at a 90-degree angle and then straighten. Repeat this motion of bending and straightening your knee for 10–15 seconds. You may repeat this with other areas along the vastus lateralis, the muscles that run along the sides of the quadriceps. These muscles help you rise up from a squatting position, and allow you to extend your lower leg.
Distal Hamstring Release
- Equipment needed: lacrosse ball.
- Sit on a bed or chair with a lacrosse ball behind your knee.
- Kick your leg up and down while maintaining contact with the ball throughout the movement.
- Do this for 20–30 seconds, 2–3 times.
The stretches and releases above will work for any kind of activity. Of course, you can expand on this list, depending on your activity. For example, if you’re a cyclist, a doorway pec stretch would be a good addition to combat the time you spent hunched over the bike. Think of the muscles you work during your exercises, and focus on stretching and massaging those areas.
Originally published on MyFitnessPal.
Physio Works – Physiotherapy Brisbane
Article by John Miller
Why is a Cool Down Important?
While often neglected a cool down serves four main purposes:
- Immediate cardiovascular recovery.
- Normalising muscle length and tension.
- Mental recovery
- Preparation for your next exercise session.
Let’s look at these four purposes in a little more detail.
Immediate cardiovascular recovery is potentially life saving. Your heart has been busily pumping blood at high pressure through your body. If you stop suddenly your blood can pool in the engorged muscles, normally your legs, and you may feel dizzy or actually collapse. A cool down acts as a steady “normaliser” that can also help to aid the dissipation of muscle contraction waste products such as lactic acid, and assist the normalising of “fight and flight” chemicals such as adrenaline in your blood. Simply slowing down the vigor of the exercise you have just done for a few minutes is all it takes to normalise your circulatory system. Runners can walk. Swimmers can swim slower. All this happens as your heart rate and blood pressure safely resumes your normal resting levels.
Resting Muscle Length
Normalising muscle length and tension. One the byproducts of exercise is muscle bunching. Think of a body builder post biceps curls. They are left with semi-bent elbows and if this remains long term they will actually have shorter and more bunched muscles in the long-term. During sports, this may be beneficial but between your training sessions it leads to hypertonic muscles, increased risk of muscle strain and in long-term cases a loss of joint range of motion. This can affect performance. A runner for example with a tight hamstring will have a reduced stride length and have a higher risk of injury. A tight muscle is usually a less efficient muscle, meaning less force generation and power.
Which Stretches are Recommended Post-Exercise?
The purpose of post-exercise stretching is to restore muscle length, so static stretching is the key. Research has shown that 30 second slow static stretches are the way to go (Ayala et al 2010). Two to three repetitions are favoured by most researchers. But, you should really listen to your body and if you feel an extra stretch or two of a tighter than normal muscle group is what you need, I’d suggest you give it a try. Your body rarely lies and has a pretty good idea what it likes. It is also important to stretch all the muscles that were involved in your activity.
What about Massage and Foam Rollers?
You can probably also guess that a light non-traumatic style massage or use of a foam roller may also be very helpful at restoring your post-exercise muscle length.
Mental recovery is overlooked part of the recovery process as we lead busy lives and it is often difficult to ensure that we adequately take the time to relax and let our mind calms down. Relaxation techniques can be a useful tool to help you with this, but even taking a few minutes to slowly cool down, some meditation or having a relaxing soft tissue massage can help you reflect upon you training performance or to mentally recover for your next session.
Preparation for your next exercise session. Sometimes cool down is truly an ice cold. That’s why ice baths are used by professional athletes post-event or post-game. The benefits of ice baths have been shown to assist post-exercise bruising and bleeding, joint or muscle inflammation and to provide pain relief – even if it is a bit chilly when you first hop it. Of course, the less brave can simply use ice packs to painful bits. It all aims to stop things swelling too much, which aids your recovery time.
Things to Avoid in Cool Down.
Just as there are lot of good things to do in a cool down it’s also good to avoid less helpful things. Avoid heat – you’re already hot and further heat will only encourage bleeding.
Avoid alcohol – I don’t want to be a party-pooper but alcohol encourages inflammation and dehydration.
As I mentioned earlier the benefits of an effective cool down help you to recover from your session and prepare for the next. Now it’s up to you!
Recovery Treatment Options
Ayala F, de Baranda Andujar PS. Effect of 3 different active stretch durations on hip flexion range of motion. J Strength Condition Res (Lippincott Williams Wilkins). 2010;24(2):430-436.
Mattes AL. Active isolated stretching. J Bodyw Mov Ther. 1996;1(1):28-33.
Roberts JM, Wilson K. Effect of stretching duration on active and passive range of motion in the lower extremity. Br J Sports Med. 1999;33(4):259-263.
Winters MV, Blake CG, Trost JS, et al. Passive versus active stretching of hip flexor muscles in subjects with limited hip extension: a randomized clinical trial. Phys Ther. 2004;84(9):800-807.
Five Reasons You Shouldn’t Skip Your Cool-down After Exercise
“I don’t have time to cool-down” or “I’ll stretch later.” These common phrases are like nails on a chalk board to personal trainers and group fitness instructors around the country, yet are heard on a regular basis. With the perception of time being the most important determinant for an individual to remain diligent in their exercise routine, the cool-down is usually the first thing to go when time is of the essence. Although it may be easy to simply jump from the treadmill straight into the shower, or from the squat rack to the car, there are five very important reasons to think carefully before you pull the plug on your workout.
During exercise, the heart is pumping at an accelerated rate and the oxygenated blood has to be pumped from your heart and make it all the way through your lower extremities before working its way back to the heart (against gravity) to be re-oxygenated again. When the body goes from moving quickly or performing a lot of work during your last set to working less and moving slowly, the squeezing action provided by the working muscles is greatly diminished. When exercise is stopped abruptly, this can cause the blood to pool in the lower extremities and slow its return back to the heart and, subsequently, the brain. Another factor that adds to this dilemma is the one-way valves that are present within our vascular system. Veins, which are generally responsible for returning deoxygenated blood back to the heart and lungs, come equipped with one-way valves spaced throughout to prevent back flow. When the movement of blood slows within the vascular system, there is less pressure available to move the blood through these doorways, which causes the blood to become somewhat ‘trapped’ between these valves. All of this can lead to lightheadedness, dizziness and fainting. In fact, many fitness facility accidents occur in the locker rooms because of this blood pooling effect (especially with the elderly or those prone to cardiovascular issues). So, when you feel like jumping from your last sprint straight back into your street clothes, remember to take an extra few minutes to slow your roll, make sure your heart rate comes down slowly, and allow your body to become accustomed to the now diminished level of work. It might save you a trip to the emergency room.
DOMS occurs 24 to 48 hours after exercise due to microtears in the muscle fibers. This is a normal part of exercise and some soreness is to be expected, especially with resistance training or a new form of exercise. However, considerable amounts of DOMS is not comfortable and can be rather debilitating when trying to stay on a consistent exercise schedule. DOMS that hangs around for more than two to three days may also be a sign of overtraining or illness, or be a precursor to injury. Cooling down after your workout is a great way to help minimize the DOMS effect. A recent study conducted at California State University looked at the effect of recovery interventions of moderate- and low-intensity cycling, as well as seated rest after strength training. What they found was that when completed after the strength training bout, the moderate-intensity cycling cool-down showed a significant decrease in DOMS due to increased blood flow to the exercised muscles. So when your last reps are in the books, don’t forget to put your weights away and take a short spin on the closest bike; your quads will thank you in 24 to 48 hours.
Exercise is a great way to step away from the day’s stresses and take care of yourself. Not only are you taking care of your body when you exercise, but you’re also taking care of your mind by helping to release the “feel good” hormones dopamine and serotonin, also known as endorphins. The cool-down is an important part of this process—when exercise is slowed and the body is allowed to gradually come back to a resting, balanced state (homeostasis), you will be able to take full advantage of the relaxed and euphoric effect that these neurochemicals have on your body. Taking a few moments to stretch, breath and reflect on your awesome workout will not only help you be on point when you enter back into your busy life, it will also leave you feeling refreshed and possibly ward off future diseases.
When you are finished with all your sets and reps or your final interval, your muscles are very warm and pliable (think of silly putty that you’ve been played with for a while), making static stretching a great addition to the cool-down to improve overall flexibility. When the muscles are stretched on a consistent basis, they become lengthened and, over time, will allow you to have more range of motion, warding off injuries that tend to plague the inflexible. This is also true for those who may not be of the competitive nature. Lower-back injuries are among the most common reasons for days missed at work and can be caused from tight hamstrings and/or tight hip flexors, which is why it is so important to give these areas some love after your workout. Two sets of 30-second static stretches will not only make your legs and back feel great, but you will also be more likely to catch yourself in a slippery situation and prevent a future injury.
After an intense bout of exercise there is accumulation of lactic acid within the system. It takes time for this byproduct of exercise to be ‘buffered’ out, so 10 minutes of light exercise along with stretching is a great way to begin clearing the lactic acid from the body. It also helps to ensure that your body will be ready for its next physical test.
With all this talk about a cool-down it is important to know what to include during this essential part of your workout routine. A cool-down should fill the last five to 15 minutes of your workout, and include static (held for 30 seconds or so) stretches of the muscle groups you just worked. For example, if you did squats and push-ups, you’ll want to stretch your glutes, quads, chest and triceps. You should also include a light form of cardiovascular exercise. If you just finished a spin class or a run, try walking for five to 10 minutes and then do your stretches. Your cool-down might also include the use of a foam roller to help alleviate those tender points along the muscles. So, while it might be just as easy to skip out early, remember that a 10-minute cool-down can be the difference between you and your fitness goals.
Training Tips >> How Cooling Down Can Help You Run Faster Times
You’ve fought your way through your training, your heart’s still beating like crazy and you have to bend over to catch your breath… You’re proud of your effort – but your workout isn’t quite over yet. A proper cool-down can speed up your recovery and increase the effectiveness of your training.
To produce an effective training stimulus, you have to break out of your comfort zone and stress your body. The more intense your workout is, the longer it will take your body to recover. It’s only during the recovery process that your muscles rebuild and get stronger for future workouts, which results in the desired training effect. To achieve the greatest possible effect, your recovery has to be just as important as the training itself: the cool-down run is the first step of your recovery. The harder your workout or race was, the more important your cool-down is.
Why you should always do a cool-down run
Just as a warm-up prepares your body for the workout, the cool-down helps your body return to a state of rest. The cool-down relaxes your muscles and lowers your heart rate and breathing from your workout intensity. It helps your body to eliminate lactic acid and other waste products faster and to repair micro-injuries. It also provides your muscles with oxygenated blood, which speeds up the recovery process and helps you avoid sore muscles. All of these positive effects of cooling down help you to recover faster from your training and be ready for your next workout sooner!
You should run slower than your base training pace
Your cool-down shouldn’t put any extra stress on your body, so keep the pace nice and easy. After hard intervals, your heart rate might shoot up again after a few meters. If this happens, you can walk for a few minutes and then try to run a few meters here and there until your heart rate has returned to its pre-workout rate. The main thing is that the pace of your cool-down should be slower than your base training pace.
An expert tip: run your cool-down barefoot
To give my feet a break from my running shoes and to increase circulation, I like to run barefoot in the grass along the inside of the track. But gravel paths and trails are also good options for cool-down runs because they help minimize the impact, just make sure to put your shoes back on :-).
How long should your cool-down be?
How long your cool-down should be mainly depends on your fitness level and the workout you just completed: the better shape you’re in, the longer your cool-down can be. But you should cool down for at least 5-10 minutes. After a hard workout, I sometimes notice that the cool-down loosens me up and I start running faster without consciously speeding up.
The last training stimulus has the biggest effect
If a simple cool-down run is too boring for you, there is a way to kick it up a notch: some coaches and athletes believe the last training stimulus is the most effective and thus has the biggest training effect. With my interval runs, I also try to finish with the fastest run and not keep training until my performance starts to drop. So you could make an argument for cool-down runs being counterproductive. But if you consider all the positive effects of cooling down, the benefits clearly outweigh the harms. What you can do and what many aspiring runners do is to create an additional training stimulus after the cool-down by running a few accelerations. You start out slow and then increase your pace over a distance of 40-60 meters until you are nearly sprinting. Repeat this sequence 3-5 times. In between repetitions, you can either slowly walk back to where you started or rest for 2-3 minutes.
Takeaway: Runners who regularly cool down recover faster, are ready for their next workout sooner and have a lower risk of injury and overtraining!
Benefits of Cooling Down
Benefits of Cooling Down and Stretching After Exercise
If you typically skip the warm up and cool down period after working out, then you are missing out on some exercise benefits. There are some essential benefits of stretching and cooling down after your workout. After a long hard workout, many people just stop and end their routine there.
The problem is that this does not give their body the proper time to recover or time to re-stretch those muscles. Cool downs, or the recovery period, allows your body to recover from the rigorous training you just did.
Similarly, the stretching afterwards helps to lengthen and strengthen your muscles in preparation for the next big exercise you do.
Cooling Down Muscles After Exercise
Although many people skip warming up and cooling down, the cool down step is probably the most overlooked piece of an effective exercise routine. The benefits of cooling down are just as important as warm up period but bring you different benefits than the warm up routine.
During an aerobic exercise routine you are working your heart within your target heart rate zone. The main purpose of cooling down is to bring your breathing, body temperature and heart rate back to normal slowly.
During this period you are allowing the blood to properly redistribute itself to the heart. This redistribution helps rid the muscles of lactic acid which can build up around the muscles during an aerobic workout.
If you stop your aerobics abruptly and do not cool down, the blood can pool up around your muscles in the legs. This can cause insufficient blood flow and oxygen to the brain giving you a light headed and dizzy sensation. Dizziness, nausea and feeling worn out are common symptoms of an improper or no cool down period.
The Cool Down Routine
Similar to the warm up routine, a cool down should last at least 5 minutes. It can last up to 15 minutes, depending on how strenuous your exercise routine was.
Your goal is to slowly lower your speed and intensity level by running slower. Continue to cool down by jogging in place and then marching in place. Keep brining the intensity down a bit more until eventually you are walking in place.
As you slow down, remember to lower your arms as well to help bring your heart rate back to normal. Towards the end of the cool down your arms should not go above your heart. Just swing them slowly by your side.
Stretching After Exercise
An effective cool down will also include your stretching exercises. Your muscles will be nice and warm for a deeper and more beneficial stretch to all your major muscles.
Do static stretching on all the major muscles and any muscles you used during your exercise or sport. Each stretch should be held for 30 seconds.
Remember your workout does not begin or end with the aerobics, strength training or walking/jogging steps. The beginning and ending should always be some form of warm up and cool down.
So for your next exercise routine, be sure to get all the benefits of cooling down and warming up by making time for these two critical steps of your workout.
In addition to the benefits of cooling down, be sure to check out these benefits of warming up before exercise.
Eating After Exercise
In addition to cooling down after a good workout, be sure to refuel your body by eating. Check out this article to find out when and what to eat after exercising.
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