Do you go to the gym regularly but end your workout routine without a proper cool down? Or maybe whenever you do take time out of your busy schedule to work out, you skimp over warming up, cooling down, or both? You aren’t alone if you answered yes to these.
Keep on reading to learn more about an important exercise step i.e. Cool Down.
What is Cool Down?
During exercise, your heart beats faster, your breathing rate increases, and your body temperature rises. The more intense the workout, the higher these three parameters would be. Therefore, you must always finish your exercise with a proper cool down to get things back to a normal pace.
A cool-down brings back our heart rate, breathing, and body temperature back to its resting state. It ensures that blood gets a chance to re-circulate in our body which lowers our risk of getting dizzy or fainting.
An all body cooldown is a great way to end your exercise session, and in case you worked on target muscles, then it involves particularly stretching those muscles.
It hardly takes 3-10 minutes, but a cool down is an important exercise step and should never be skipped.
Importance of Cool Down
One of the factors which pushed me to cool down after every workout is its effectiveness against DOMS. DOMS stands for delayed onset muscles soreness. It is usually experienced 24 to 48 hours after an intense workout.
Soreness is usually experienced more when you just start to exercise, or during the start of sport preparation. It also happens when you introduce a new routine to your exercise regime or workout a muscle strenuously. The reason behind soreness is:
- Micro Tears:
When we work out our muscles, small micro-tears appear in them. After a day or two, these tears can swell up putting pressure on nerve endings which cause pain in our muscles.
- Blood Pooling:
During a workout, our heart rate increases as the muscles require more oxygen and nutrients. Both are carried by the blood and then sent back to the heart to re-oxygenate more blood. The faster our muscle is working, the faster it’ll send the blood back for re-oxygenation.
When we stop the exercise suddenly, the contracting muscle force also stops which causes blood and lactic acid to pool in the muscles. This can cause swelling and pain, while the process is called blood pooling.
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Benefits of Cool Down
Cooldown has several other benefits as well, such as:
- Lactic Acid is a byproduct that starts getting accumulated in the muscles after an intense workout. Cooling down helps the body to get rid of it.
- Our muscles and tendons are very flexible post-workout. When we cool down and stretch our body, it increases their range of motion. This reduces the chances of injury over time.
- Exercise releases “feel good” hormones known as endorphins. Cooling down after an exercise session allows you to truly reflect, relax, and relieves stress.
- Stretching and cooling down promotes blood circulation all around the body.
- It lowers your heart and breathing rate so you may easily resume other normal functions of your life.
Effective Ways to Cool Down
Right below I’ve picked out a few of the most effective ways to cool down:
Perhaps the most basic and easy way to cool down, but effective nonetheless. Ending your exercise with a relaxed walk helps to bring your heart rate and body temperature down.
- Core and Back Stretching
Get on all fours and round your back, you’ll roughly look like a semi-circle. Invert your position such that you’re now making a C with your spine. Repeat this exercise three times and afterward sit in between your heels, forehead placed on the ground and arms stretched outwards.
This will stretch your back and cool your body down effectively as well.
Stretching is a fundamental part of any cool down and stretching your chest is a great way to cool down, especially after doing push-ups. To do so, lace your fingers behind your back and look at the ceiling while extending out your arms.
- Exercise Mimicry
Exercise mimicry involves cooling down by doing or mimicking the same exercise that you were doing earlier, but with less intensity. For example, if you were lifting weights, then cool down using smaller weights.
Yoga exercises can be quite intense but can make for a great way to stretch and cool down. Learn a few basic poses and make them a part of your cooling down routine.
In my eyes, no workout is complete without a cool down. Cooling down is easy but effective for returning our body back to its resting position and promoting the recovery process.
It is also highly effective for avoiding muscle soreness and avoiding injury.
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