In an age of streamlining everything from meals to travel planning, it can be tempting to take the same approach with fitness. But this isn’t the occasion to skimp. All elements of your workout, from warmup to cooldown, are essential to performance and recovery. Here’s a look at why the cooldown is your secret weapon.
Ease the Transition
When you’re engaged in physical activity, your heart works harder to pump oxygen-rich blood to the muscles. If you end your workout without a transition, it can be a shock to the system. Some people might feel out of breath, dizzy, or lightheaded, especially after a period of intense cardio. On the other hand, a cooldown can help return the body to homeostasis and even leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.
Reduce Soreness & Injuries
Have you ever done so many squats that you find it hard to get out of bed a day or two later? That’s your workout catching up with you, albeit in a way you might not have expected. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is likely to blame.
Unpleasant at times, DOMS occurs up to 48 hours after exercise. It happens when the muscle fibers break down. This might sound like a bad thing, but it’s actually part of the process of building muscle. No pain; no gain, as they say!
Following both strength training and cardio, cooling down after your workout can help reduce the prevalence of DOMS in most people. A brief cooldown can also prevent injuries. Stretching muscles when they’re “warm” can help reduce strains, sprains, or tears.
C’mon, Get Happy
Exercise is your “me time.” Workouts boost physical health, but they also elicit the release of those good-mood hormones, dopamine and serotonin. But there’s a caveat here. If you hop off the bike and into the shower without a transition, you shortchange yourself.
A cooldown allows the body to come back to its baseline, and you can bask in the full effect of post-workout endorphin glory. By taking a few moments to stretch and engage in deep breathing, you’ll feel ready to take on the stressors of the outside world again.
Look no further than our YouTube channel for a series of yoga, stretch, and meditation sessions that can help you cool down, focus, and stay limber. We hope you’ll take a break from your home office and join us.
One last piece of good news: If you’re pressed for time, don’t sweat it. Five minutes is all it takes to get the benefits of a cooldown.