Why It Is So Important to Cool Down After Exercise
Posted Jan 18 2012 1:24pm
Cooling down after an exercise session is as important as warming up before the workout.
Your warm up helps get your body and mind prepared for the forthcoming physical exertion while the cooling down brings the body and brain activity back to normality.
During the workout, the heart and breathing increase and the body produces lactic acid as the muscles increase their normal work load while the blood flow is concentrating on the working muscles. Correctly carried out a cooling down routine, immediately after a strenuous workout , will allow the body to flush out excess lactic acid build up in the muscles together with other natural toxins and waste products that have become abnormally present as a result of exercise.
As the blood circulation and heart rate return to normality those parts of the body, organs, muscles , tendons and ligaments, not directly involved in the exercise routines will get the oxygen and nutrients that they may have been starved of during the workout and which they require for growth and repair.
It is more beneficial to the body if this return to normality is gradual via the cooling down routine than a transition from high activity to body rest without a pause.
Not only does a correctly executed cooling down routine help the gradual removal of waste products arising from the workout but will also reduce the risk of painful muscle strain and soreness occurring, most frequently the following day after the workout.
It is important to understand the effect that can happen to the body if after a strenuous exercise work out you do not carry out a cooling down routine. Lactic acid, a chemical produced due to muscle fatigue, remains in the muscles along with other waste and can become a cause of acute pain.
Blood vessels that have expanded during the workout have filled and caused swelling known as “blood pooling” as the heart rapidly slows down. Dizziness, even passing out can happen if a gradual cooling down is ignored.
The most vulnerable to these symptoms are those who work out the hardest, to or near the limits of their endurance and are at their peak of physical fitness. This is because their heart rates are already slow and their veins have a bigger capacity to pool blood particularly in the legs.
There is a counter argument to cooling down in the case of the majority of those who regularly carry out a modest level of physical training. In most instances it is unlikely that when the workout is finished there will be a period of total inactivity.
Walking to the changing room or your car, having a shower, just standing around chatting will give the benefit of cooling down. Just a point of view but taking the trouble to cool down after any exercise workout is a case of “better safe than sorry” and for most of us just five minutes will do the trick.