To suddenly stop exercising after a workout and not cool down can lead to a drop in blood pressure, which can place stress upon the heart, cause dizziness and possible fainting. A cool-down pushes heart rate and body temperature down, relaxes the mind, muscles and physiological systems of the body. After a cardio session, it helps in preventing blood pooling and soreness in muscles. If done after strength training, it helps in flushing out lactic acid which can otherwise cause muscle pain and swelling.
A good cool-down broadly involves finishing the workout routine with pulse-lowering, a gentle jog, decreasing the speed down to a walk followed by light static stretching and refueling the system with fluids and food! When your workout ends, just dial down the intensity of what you’re doing every minute or two, whether it’s running, indoor cycling, or Zumba. Your cool down should last for at least five minutes, but you may need to keep moving longer if your heart rate is still elevated.
ABC of a cool down
- Rehydrate: First and foremost is rehydration. Exercise dehydrates your muscles and skin even in an air-conditioned environment. Sipping some water/sports drink while performing cool down will get some fluid back into the system quickly.
- Post-stretching: Three-to-five minutes of easy exercise. Be sure that the easy exercise resembles one that was done during your workout. For example, if your workout involved a lot of running, cool down with easy jogging or walking. Gentle stretches such as shoulder rolls and hip rolls are also perfect post workout. Try chin drops, too: Lower your chin to your chest and hold for a count of five.
- Breathing: Include some deep breathing as part of your easy exercise to help oxygenate your system.
- Re-fuel: Extending a cool down to a post workout meal is important as people think they should not eat after a workout to enhance fat burning. It’s a total “No No” to starve your body after a workout. Grab your post workout snack ASAP you finish cool down. Have a good combination of protein and carbohydrates and cold water to feed your muscles in order to burn fat 24×7, not just while working out.
- Icy bath: Cold water bath post workout further hastens recovery and rejuvenates your body and mind.