You’ve finally listened to us and realized why you should add cardio into your life, so you’ve just pushed yourself through a grueling cardio workout and are so excited to be done; now with the shower calling your name, the last thing you want to do is spend any more time doing a measly cool down.
We’ve talked before in a previous post about all the steps to take before your workouts, which you can read more about here, yet there are also things you need to be doing after your workouts as well. Many overlook the importance of cool downs after their cardio workouts, when in fact they may be just as important as the warm-up.
The reason many people overlook this is due to the debate of just how important a cool down after exercise is, especially after cardio workouts. While yes it is true, “recent studies suggest that post-cardio cool-downs may not speed recovery or reduce muscle soreness…cool-downs might still be effective to gradually reduce heart rate and prevent post-workout dizziness” as an article titled, Should I Do a Cooldown After Cardio? on Greatist.com stated.
The article when on to say that there have been studies suggesting the lactic acid buildup may actually aid muscle recovery, and that dynamic warm-ups are a more powerful tool than cool-downs for fighting that next-day soreness and stiffness. But don’t think all this means you can forget the cool-down just yet.
When you are exercising, especially doing cardiovascular exercise, your arteries and heart are vigorously pumping blood to muscles in need; because of this more blood usually ends up going to your extremities, especially your legs when doing cardio exercises such as running. So when you stop exercising suddenly, that collection of blood can pool in your legs. This can lead to dizziness, nausea and even fainting.
When you do a proper cool-down you give your body a chance to gradually allow this blood to flow out of your muscles and reduce your heart rate. So while it is true, cool-downs probably won’t relieve any muscle soreness the next day, it will help keep your heart strong and blood flow pumping.
WebMd describes how to cool down and gives some examples of cool-down activities to do after your different cardio workouts:
- To cool down after a brisk walk, walk slowly for 5 to 10 minutes.
- To cool down after a run, walk briskly for 5 to 10 minutes.
- To cool down after biking, spin on your bicycle at higher revolutions per minute (around 100) as you finish your exercise.
- To cool down after swimming, swim some leisure laps for 5 to 10 minutes, varying your strokes.
As this article states from TreadmillReviewGuru.com, as a cool-down you’ll also want to “make sure you walk and hydrate for a couple minutes” before you plop yourself down!
What are your favorite ways to cool down after an intense cardio workout?