We usually like to see cool downs that are anywhere from 5-10 minutes in length.
Purpose of the Cool Down:
- Prevents blood pooling so blood can pump back to your heart, if you suddenly stop exercises, you’ll often feel light-headed and some people are prone to fainting, so if you’ve just done a difficult workout, you’ll need to continue to walk and move around to prevent blood pooling;
- Removes lactate from the muscles more quickly;
- Reduces adrenaline faster which may aid in recovery;
- Reduces muscles stiffness for injury prevention (although this is totally debatable and I challenge this train of thought a bit, but I’m a nerd and like research).
- A good cool down is usually a continuation of the activity you’ve just finished, but at a much less intense level;
- Continue to move at a lower intensity until you feel your heart rate has decreased (e.g. you can no longer hear your heartbeat pounding in your ears, you can breathe freely and talk full sentences);
- Stretch, stretch, stretch the muscles you just worked.
Here is a sample cool down following a run workout:
- Slow jog for 2-3 minutes
- Brisk walk for 2 minutes
- Slow walk for 1 minute or until heart rate returns to “normal”.
- Hamstring, quadriceps, hip flexor and calf stretches.
- Stretch the muscles that you used in the workout;
- Don’t forget about your upper body, even if you’ve just done a cardio workout…we hold quite a bit of tension in our upper bodies while doing cardio, so release the tension there;
- Hold your stretches anywhere for 30-60 seconds
- Stretching should feel slightly uncomfortable, but never painful.