This is going to be my last post for my #workoutwednesday series. I thought it was a good idea to close it out with a cool down routine, which is often the most overlooked aspect of exercise, although it is equally as important as the warm-up.
The Importance of a Cool Down
A cool down takes place after a workout with the goal of slowly getting the heart-rate, breathing, and body temperature back to its pre-exercise state. A proper cool down usually lasts for about 5-10 minutes, and should start off with some low-intensity exercises followed by stretches.
The benefits of cooling down include
- Bringing the body’s physiological state back to normal
- Reduces the risk for muscle cramps and spasms
- Helps to offset some muscle soreness
- Aids in muscle recovery
- Removes waste build-up (like lactic acid) that occurs during physical activity
- Prevents dizziness and fainting after exercise
How to Cool Down
Step 1: Light Activity
The first part of a quality cool down should start off with about 3-5 minutes of light activity. This can differ depending on the individuals workout.
Here are some examples:
- After a run you might take a light jog for 2-3 minutes, followed by a 2-3 minute walk.
- After a spin or bike workout you might pedal on a flat road (light resistance) for 3-4 minutes, followed by 1-2 minutes pedaling with no resistance whatsoever.
- After a strength training workout it’s a good idea to do 3-5 minutes of dynamic stretching, like we saw in our warm-up routine, or even some yoga poses.
- After a swimming workout one can swim a few leisurely laps around the pool.
- Instructor-led fitness classes typically have a warm-up and cool down built into the routine.
Step 2: Stretching
The second and last part of a quality cool down will consist of stretching for another 3-5 minutes. You want to make sure you are focusing on the muscles that were being activated during the workout. In order to incorporate relaxation into my cool-down routine, I like to hold each stretch for 5 deep breaths.
Here are some examples of stretches:
Front Shoulders Stretch
Standing Side Stretch
Chest Opener Stretch
The Forward Hang
Upper Back Stretch
Lower Back Stretch
I truly hope that you all enjoyed this series! The aim of #workoutwednesday was to share some information related to proper exercise, promote a healthy lifestyle, give ideas of some different types of workouts, and most importantly, to inspire you to exercise and take control of your health!
Please keep checking back on this blog for more health and fitness posts, and possibly a new series =).
Enjoy your cool down and don’t forget to incorporate it after every workout. If you are short on time, modify; something is always better than nothing.