Post Workout Cool-Down in a Nutshell

Happy Monday Readers! 

Hope you had a wonderful Christmas and now that its over, time that I get back to the gym! Well…for one more day anyways because my family and I are spending our New Years at our friends’ cabin. Since I was about 4, we have been going there for every New Years – snowmobiling, playing board games and eating more than we should. It is always such a joy to have some R&R in their cozy abode amidst the below 30 degree Celsius weather – my favorite!!

Though my eating habits have been quite poor being at home these past weeks, I have been diligent in my exercise routine – doing strength training 3 times/week as well as an interval and core combination workout 3 times/week. I never miss out on warming up before I workout – usually running for about 2-5 minutes and doing a series of dynamic stretches – however, to be brutally honest, I have been quite notorious for a while now for not taking the time to cool down at the end of my exercise. I have a sense though that I am not the only one who overlooks this precious time after a workout. Here’s some physiology 101 behind cooling down (Thanks to the kinesiology class I took last semester, I get to now sound like a smarty pants ;)

Heart rate rises when we exercise a lot of blood is pumping to our muscles to carry oxygen, carbon dioxide and other nutrients in and out of muscle cells. By immediately stopping after an exercise bout, heart rate decreases dramatically. So what? Isn’t the slowing of heart rate good because it allows the body to return to its normal, homeostatic condition? Well, not really. Veins can’t return blood all the way back the heart on their own and a sudden drop in heart rate can result in blood pooling and therefore dizziness and light-headedness – which I am sure none of us like to experience. On the contrary, a gradual decrease in heart rate helps return all of your blood back to the heart and other organs that now need the nutrients – accomplished by doing low impact activity after your workout. The good part is that cooling down does not have to be incorporated right into your workout. For myself – I like to cool down by walking or biking to and from the gym. Your cool down can be done in multiple different ways throughout the day. 

I know for a busy person such as myself in a few weeks time, the great part is cooling down does not have to be incorporated right into your workout and can be done in multiple, productive ways – such as walking to class or work from the gym, even cleaning the house. 

I also want to make clear that stretching and cooling down are NOT the same thing and has nothing to to with post-exercise muscle soreness – which is from microscopic tearing and rebuilding of muscle tissues.  Stretching, however, is super important – especially when you are living an active lifestyle because it increases flexibility (duh) and therefore promotes better performance next workout and prevents the risk of  future potential injuries. Many usually incorporate stretching and cooling down together, but because most people are generally active throughout the day, stretching is also great to do before bedtime. 

Here’s a quick summary of what I talked about in this post:

Cool Down Cropped

I better get packing. 

God bless, 

Maddi

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