We’ve all been there. You’re feeling good after a workout, you’re feeling the endorphins flowing, and all you want to do is get out of the gym as fast as possible so you can go about your day. But wait! Before you bolt for the door, there’s one important step you shouldn’t skip – the post-workout cool-down.
What is a post-workout cool-down? Why does it matter so much? This article will give you the rundown on everything you need to know about post-workout cool-downs, including the importance of cooling down and how to do it properly.
Why Is Post-Workout Cool-Down Important?
There are many reasons why post-workout cool-down is so important. Cooling down after a workout helps to:
Slow Down Your Breathing
Short and heavy breaths are common after a strenuous workout. Taking some time to cool down gives your body a chance to return to its normal breathing pattern gradually.
Safely Slow Down Your Heart Rate
Your heart rate will naturally increase during exercise as your body works harder. Once you stop exercising, your heart rate should slowly return to its resting rate. However, if you stop suddenly, your heart rate can drop too quickly, which can be dangerous. Cooling down helps your heart rate return to its resting rate gradually and safely.
Control Blood Flow
During exercise, your muscles need more oxygen and nutrients. To meet this demand, your heart pumps more blood to your muscles and away from other organs, such as your digestive system. This can cause problems like indigestion. Cooling down helps your body gradually return to its normal blood flow pattern.
Sudden changes in activity can cause many injuries, such as strains and pulls. Taking the time to cool down allows your body to adjust slowly and reduces the risk of injury.
As your muscles warm up during exercise, they become more pliable and are less likely to be injured. Cooling down helps maintain this increased flexibility and can even help improve your range of motion over time.
Exercise can be a great way to reduce stress, but if you stop too suddenly, the stress-relieving effects can be reversed. Cooling down allows your body to transition slowly from the “fight or flight” response to a more relaxed state.
Why You Shouldn’t Skip the Post-Workout Cool-Down
There are many risks associated with skipping the post-workout cool-down, including:
Lactic Acid Buildup
Lactic acid is a byproduct of exercise that can build up in your muscles and cause pain. Cooling down helps to clear out lactic acid and prevent pain. This kind of pain can make it hard to exercise again in the future, so it’s essential to avoid it if you can.
Lightheadedness and Dizziness
When you stop exercising suddenly, your blood pressure can drop quickly, which can cause you to feel lightheaded or dizzy. Cooling down gradually helps to prevent this from happening. After all, who wants to feel like they're going to pass out after a good workout? All you should be feeling is the post-workout endorphin high!
How to Cool Down Post Workout
Now that you know all the important reasons why you shouldn’t skip the post-workout cool-down, it’s time to learn how to do it properly. Here are a few tips:
Start With a Slow Walk or Easy Jog
Don’t stop abruptly after your last exercise. Instead, slow down gradually for a few minutes. This will help your body adjust and avoid injury.
Stretch It Out
Once you’ve slowed down your heart rate and breathing, take some time to stretch all the major muscle groups you worked on during your workout. This will help improve flexibility and reduce the risk of soreness later on.
Be sure to drink plenty of fluids during and after your workout to replace all the sweat you’ve lost. Water is always a good choice, but sports drinks can also help replenish electrolytes.
Cool Down for 5–10 Minutes
Ideally, you should take 5–10 minutes to cool down after your workout. This gives your body ample time to adjust and prevents problems like lightheadedness or dizziness.
The Bottom Line
Post-workout cool-downs are an important part of any exercise routine. They help to gradually slow your heart rate, return your blood flow to normal, prevent injuries and improve flexibility. Cooling down also helps you to avoid pain and discomfort later on. Be sure to take 5–10 minutes to cool down after your next workout, and your body will thank you for it!
The perfect time to try these tips is after your next Lagree workout. So what are you waiting for? Sign up for your first Lagree Fit 415 class here today.