The Importance of a Cool DownMarch 20, 2023
People often ask me after I teach a class or do a workout “why do you stay and stretch for ten-fifteen minutes afterwards? Didn’t you already work out?” It surprises me when I see people just leave a class (especially an aerobics class) to leave and walk right out into the cold or snow. Truly, that is not good for your muscles, and here is why.
The importance of a cool down is greatly emphasized in all structured forms of fitness. In Zumba, it happens as the last song, which is slow and easy-often a bachata. In yoga it is stretches on the back followed by resting pose. And in Pilates we often take about five minutes to stretch at the end of class. But even though all these forms already have a built in cool down, your body can benefit from a longer cool down and stretches after that.
To just take a moment and stretch and breath after any workout is good for the mind as well as the muscles. “It is an opportunity for you to reduce your intensity, bring down your heart rate, and relax your muscles from working out in a tensed state.” (From Verywell Fit by Jennifer Purdie) So, it is beneficial to your heart, your muscles, and your body as a whole. If you walk out into the cold weather right immediately after working out intently, your muscles will tense up right away due to the cold weather, which could result in injury. In addition, when you work out, your body temperature is higher, and your heart rate is faster. If you stop too quickly without a cool down, this could cause you to feel sick or pass out.
Cool downs for yourself could be a simple stretch such as straddles or pikes to quad stretch and calf stretches. A cool down could also consist of slow movements such as moving your body side to side or your hands up and down. Whatever you choose make sure you perform for at least five minutes after a workout, and I guarantee you will feel so much better!