When you take an exercise class, your instructor leads you through a cool down that brings you heart rate back to normal and stretches the muscles of your body. When you take a run or workout on your own, the odds are good that you skip the cool down process. Taking a few minutes to cool down after your workout has a number of potential benefits.
Importance of the Cool Down
A recent study found that cooling down after a workout reduces the soreness and stiffness that you feel later. The study put three groups of participants through a strenuous routine. One group went through a short cool down, one group skipped the cool down and one group spent more time cooling down. The last group reported the least amount of soreness the next day and the first group experienced less pain, while the group that didn’t cool down reported a high amount of soreness and stiffness.
How to Cool Down
The way you cool down depends on how you workout. Runners can slowly work their way down to a jog and spend the last few minutes walking. Others will find that simple stretches work best. After finishing your workout, take a few deep and calming breaths. Lean down and try to touch your toes, stretch your arms over your head and across your body and pull your legs out in front of you a few times. Some people even end their workouts with a few simple yoga poses and stretches.
How Long Should it Take?
It shouldn’t take a long talk to cool down after exercising. You essentially want to bring your heart rate back to normal and loosen your muscles before resting. Most exercises classes use a cool down of just 60 seconds, while others spend up to five minutes cooling down. As long as your heart rate lowers, your body feels loose and comfortable and you feel confident, you can stop your cool down.