Why is cooling down after exercise important?
Cooling down is an important part of your workout, bringing your body temperature down, slowing the heart rate, lowering blood pressure and blood flow to the active muscles and returning you to a pre-exercise state.
Stopping an exercise session abruptly without a sufficient cooling down period can result in dizziness and puts the cardiovascular system under stress.
During intense workouts the muscles produce lactid acid, a waste product which can create muscle soreness and stiffness after the exercise session is over.
A thorough cool down, which lowers the intensity of the cardiovascular activity gradually, gives the muscles chance to remove some of this waste product and speed up the recovery process.
The pulse lowering part of the cool down should start once the main workout is over.
If cardiovascular exercise was the last part of your workout, the pulse lowering phase should start by reducing the intensity of the exercise gradually over about 5 minutes.
This works to bring down the blood pressure, heart rate and blood flow to the muscles to help your body achieve a more relaxed state.
If your workout was a resistance workout rather than cardio, then a shorter pulse lowering session will be sufficient.
Examples of pulse lowering activities are similar to the warm up activities and can include walking, rowing or using the cross trainer. Slowly reducing the intensity of the exercise brings down the heart rate gradually and helps the body re-adjust to a resting state.
After the pulse lowering section of the cool down, it is time for the post-workout stretches.
These stretches help the muscle to release more lactic acid, maintain and develop the length of the muscles, improve flexibility and relax the body. Find out more about post-workout stretches.
The revitaliser is the final part of the cool down process. The revitaliser is used after the post-workout stretches to return the body to an energised state.
Following post-workout stretches, which are often performed seated or lying down, the exerciser is likely to be in a very relaxed state and might be feeling lethargic. The aim of the revitaliser is to reactivate the body so the exerciser is left feeling bright and energised.
The revitaliser can be any gentle cardio activity, such as brisk walking or cycling, and should last for a couple of minutes.
During this time the exerciser should breathe deeply to help the circulation of oxygen around the body. This increases feelings of energy and helps the muscles and body tissues recover from the workout.