Sweat is dripping down your face, you can barely catch your breath, and you just wrapped up a really intense workout. Ready for that cool down?
Most of the time I just don’t feel like it.
What the heck is a cool down?
We’ve heard it for years. From gym class to fitness gurus: You are all warmed up, so cooling down seems totally logical. But why?
The definition of a cool down is to bring your “physiological activity to return to normal gradually after strenuous activity”. That means if you were running, slow to a walk to cool down. Doing high intensity interval sprints? Cut back to a jog to finish up. Stretching can be a big part of a cool down, and here is my post that covers 20 ways to stretch after workouts.
Do you need to cool down after a workout?
Here’s what the promoters of cool downs have to say about it:
- May reduce muscles from becoming stiff and sore
- Could cut down on injuries
- Might even improve recovery rate
There’s not a lot of science behind those ideas, with the exception of stretching. You may have experienced this exception though.
When working out there is increased blood flow to the big muscle groups in your lower body and if you stop suddenly, you could feel lightheaded. Walking around for just a few minutes is plenty effective to prevent any dizziness.
A bunch of studies actually show zero benenfit from a cool down. One of these studies published in the Australian Journal of Phsyiotherapy showed warming up can decrease muscle soreness, but not from cooling down.
Great workout! Can I skip that cool down?
If you love the slowing down process of a cool down and have time to work it into your schedule without cutting into your workout time, go for it. Just because they haven’t proven it helps, doesn’t mean you have to skip it.
If you’ve ever experienced feeling faint after a tough exercise session, keep the cool down in your workout plan.
If you are like me, and when you are done, you’re done, then skip the cool down.
Are you keeping your cool down after a workout?
I keep stretching as my after workout plan, but have cut out cool downs altogether. So far I haven’t noticed any major shifts in my workout or recovery experience.
What do you think? Cooling down still work for you?
Go get your fit on