Is it important to cool down after exercise?
Cooling down is the period after an exercise session where we allow our bodies to return to their pre-exercise state in a gradual way. This allows our breathing rate and blood pressure to return to normal levels and gives us a chance to stretch the muscles we have used.
Just as during a warm up we give our bodies time to gradually prepare for the exercise ahead, a cool down gives us the very important opportunity to do this after a workout but in reverse.
Why is cooling down a good idea?
- Bringing your heart rate back down slowly after exercise is very important to ensure your blood pressure doesn’t drop too rapidly which can cause you to feel dizzy or lightheaded.
- Cooling down allows you to stretch your muscles while they are still warm from your workout. The advantage of this is you should have a greater range of movement and greater flexibility than before you started exercising, meaning you can give your muscles a deeper and more intense stretch.
- Ensuring you cool down properly after working out can help to aid better recovery as well as a reduction in injuries.
- During a cool down session you are able to reflect on the hard work you have just done which can help you to stick to your goals or refocus when needed. Your mind can benefit from a cool down almost as much as your body can.
How do I perform a cool down?
- A cool down need not take longer than around 10 minutes.
- A slow walk on the treadmill is a great way to cool down, ensuring your heart rate and blood pressure reduces gradually.
- Stretching is key and tailoring stretches according to the type of exercise you performed during your workout can help to target the muscles that might benefit most. For example, if you have been running on the treadmill, performing hip flexor, hamstring and glute stretches can be very helpful to improve flexibility.
- General stretching, covering all muscle groups, is advisable after any exercise to assist with injury reduction and ensure a good recovery after exercise.
Ensure you consult a fitness professional to assist you with information on how to stretch correctly before and after exercise. If you are short on time, it is still important that you fit in a few minutes of cooling down after your workout.
Disclaimer: The content of this page is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. References are available on request.