Benefits of Cooling Down and Stretching After Exercise
If you typically skip the warm up and cool down period after working out, then you are missing out on some exercise benefits. There are some essential benefits of stretching and cooling down after your workout. After a long hard workout, many people just stop and end their routine there.
The problem is that this does not give their body the proper time to recover or time to re-stretch those muscles. Cool downs, or the recovery period, allows your body to recover from the rigorous training you just did.
Similarly, the stretching afterwards helps to lengthen and strengthen your muscles in preparation for the next big exercise you do.
Although many people skip warming up and cooling down, the cool down step is probably the most overlooked piece of an effective exercise routine. The benefits of cooling down are just as important as warm up period but bring you different benefits than the warm up routine.
During an aerobic exercise routine you are working your heart within your target heart rate zone. The main purpose of cooling down is to bring your breathing, body temperature and heart rate back to normal slowly.
During this period you are allowing the blood to properly redistribute itself to the heart. This redistribution helps rid the muscles of lactic acid which can build up around the muscles during an aerobic workout.
If you stop your aerobics abruptly and do not cool down, the blood can pool up around your muscles in the legs. This can cause insufficient blood flow and oxygen to the brain giving you a light headed and dizzy sensation. Dizziness, nausea and feeling worn out are common symptoms of an improper or no cool down period.
Similar to the warm up routine, a cool down should last at least 5 minutes. It can last up to 15 minutes, depending on how strenuous your exercise routine was.
Your goal is to slowly lower your speed and intensity level by running slower. Continue to cool down by jogging in place and then marching in place. Keep brining the intensity down a bit more until eventually you are walking in place.
As you slow down, remember to lower your arms as well to help bring your heart rate back to normal. Towards the end of the cool down your arms should not go above your heart. Just swing them slowly by your side.
An effective cool down will also include your stretching exercises. Your muscles will be nice and warm for a deeper and more beneficial stretch to all your major muscles.
Do static stretching on all the major muscles and any muscles you used during your exercise or sport. Each stretch should be held for 30 seconds.
Remember your workout does not begin or end with the aerobics, strength training or walking/jogging steps. The beginning and ending should always be some form of warm up and cool down.
So for your next exercise routine, be sure to get all the benefits of cooling down and warming up by making time for these two critical steps of your workout.
Eating After Exercise
In addition to cooling down after a good workout, be sure to refuel your body by eating. Check out this article to find out when and what to eat after exercising.
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