Most of us know it’s important to warm up before exercise; not only to prevent injury but also to prepare the body for a gradual increase in heart rate and circulation.
But why do you need to cool down after exercise? Surely your body does this naturally, right? Wrong, a cool down is an essential part of your workout and should last between three and 10 minutes depending on the type of exercise you've engaged in.
Exercise causes an increase in your heart rate and cooling down allows your heart rate to return to normal. You want your heart rate to return to normal slowly to avoid getting lightheaded or feeling faint. With an increase in heart rate, your breathing also becomes deeper. A cool down allows your breathing to return to normal gradually. One of the reasons you might be feeling stiff after exercise is the fact you’ve not cooled down. Cooldowns prevent muscle soreness in the hours and days after working out.
One of the key benefits of cooling down is relaxation and reflection. Take a few minutes to acknowledge your dedication to maintaining a healthy body and mind. So, how should you cool down? The way in which you cool down is dependent upon the type of exercise. To cool down after a jog, or run, you might want to take a brisk walk for two to three minutes then decrease to a light stroll. At the end of your run, and after your walk, a few standing, and then seated, stretches will help prevent that muscle soreness I talked about earlier.