We have all heard of warming up before working out or participating in any kind of physical exercise, but did you know that cooling down is actually just as important? It’s true. Whether you are playing a sport, hitting the gym, or simply going for a jog around the neighborhood, your workout isn’t truly over until you have taken the time to cool down. The time immediately after a workout (known as the cool down period) is essential for muscle repair, as well as increasing your overall strength and flexibility. Additionally, cooling down after exercising can help prevent exercise-related injuries. Our healthcare providers wanted to present a few simple steps to help our patients cool down effectively and feel great after their exercise or sports activity is over.
Take it Slow
There is no need to rush. Instead of stopping your workout on a dime, take the time to gradually decrease the intensity of your exercise during your cool down. This will give your heart and body the time it needs to safely transition back to a more normal, resting state.
Walk it Off
Walking, either on a treadmill or outside, can be a great way to cool down after a workout. We recommend walking for about 5 minutes after your more intense workout has ended, or until your heart rate gets back below 120 beats per minute.
Make Time for Stretching
Although many people typically stretch before they start exercising, taking the time to stretch after your workout has concluded may actually be even more beneficial. Your muscles are warm after exercising, meaning this is when they are at their most flexible and least vulnerable to injuries like pulls and tears. Stretching can also help reduce the buildup of lactic acid, which can lead to cramping and muscle stiffness.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
While we obviously recommend hydrating while you exercise, it is also essential to drink water after your more strenuous physical activity is over. The body naturally loses water through sweating when exercising. So, it’s important to hydrate curing your cool down to help replenish your body’s water supply in order to avoid dehydration and decrease potential muscle soreness.
Remember to Breathe
There are simple steps you can take to help your body unwind after exercising. Deep breathing exercises can help return your heart rate to a more normal, resting state. Additionally, it is important to return to normal, proper breathing to avoid hyperventilating after an especially strenuous workout.
Properly cooling down after working out is an essential component of staying healthy and getting the most out of your exercise. For more exercise tips or to schedule an appointment with one of our healthcare providers, contact Family Practice Center today. You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for additional tips, news, updates, and more.