Many fitness enthusiasts still mistakenly believe that the cool down as a waste of time. In reality, your cool down is as important as your warm up. Cooling down simply means a gradual slow down after an intense workout.
You should always warm up, it is the best way to get your mind and body ready for what is going to happen as you exercise, warms muscles, increases circulation and helps prevent injury. When you cool down, you’ll do the opposite, allowing your body to recover after your workout as your heart and lungs return to normal pre-exercise rates.
Your workout is not over until you complete your 3-5 minute (minimum) cool down. Here are examples of exercises and stretches to safely decrease intensity and cool down:
The most simple cool down exercise, especially after running or jogging. Once the running portion is complete, spend the next 2-3 minutes walking and gradually slowing your pace until your heart rate returns to normal. Follow with another 2-3 minutes of static stretching. Walking as a cool down works well on the treadmill as well.
Bodyweight movements done at a moderate pace, then gradually slowing to slow stretching. Exercises like slow jumping jacks, pushups and crunches will help you cool down as you build extra strength and endurance.
If you have access to a pool, a short relaxed swim can be a great cool down. Swimming and treading water use many muscles and can be effective for additional training as you cool down.
Yoga positions make great cool down exercises because they’re essentially complex stretches that help your flexibility as you cool down and recover. Learn 3-4 simple Yoga poses and use them as your cool down to get that stretch into parts of your body you don’t normally stretch.
Complete your cooldown with a few static stretches like these:
5.1. Quadriceps stretch
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart. Bend one knee and raise your leg up and backwards, using the same side hand to hold the foot and maintain the stretch. The other hand can be positioned against a wall or similar stable object for support. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds.
5.2. Hamstring stretch
Sit on a convenient chair or bench with one leg resting on a chair placed opposite, at the same level. The stretched leg is held horizontally, keeping the knee straight. You can bend slightly forward for balance and to increase the stretch. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds.
Learn more: How To Deal With A Pulled Hamstring
5.3. Lateral stretch
Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and raise your right arm as you point upwards and bend sideways at the waist towards your left and hold. Repeat for the left arm. Hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds.
Cool down exercises incorporate light exercise to help your body transition from working hard to resting and will help you recover more quickly from your workouts and stay injury free.