Welcome to part 2 of the warm up/cool down series. These are quick blogs which aim to give you little tips on how to maximise your workout. If you missed the warm up blog, head over to it and give it a quick read, which tells you all about the reasons why you should warm up.
Back to today’s blog. I’m sure you’re all clever enough to know what a cool down is; it’s the last phase of a workout, where the aim is to get your body back to it’s pre exercise state, i.e. how you were before you starting working out. However, more often than not, I see gym bunnies and class go-ers all skip this section, rushing out the door with their towels and water bottles, immediately after their workout!
Reason’s people skip the cool down:
- They can’t be bothered to stay for an extra 5 minutes
- They don’t think they need to do a cool down
- They don’t know why they should cool down
- They will ‘do it at home’
We’re all so busy these days that we try to maximise our time by saving time where we can. However those 5 minutes can be the difference of waking up sore the next morning and increasing the risk of injury, to waking up feeling fresh and ready to go again. Some people believe they don’t need to do a cool down, maybe they feel they didn’t work hard enough. In which case, why are you even there if you’re not giving it a good go? Some people don’t know why they should cool down, and therefore see it as inconvenient because it means they’re not burning calories so what’s the point? Last but not least, we all know that person that says ‘I’ll do it at home’.
What do we need to do during a cool down?
- Gradually lower the heart rate through gentle jogging or walking
It really is that simple. In fact, cooling down is a shorter process than warming up. All it involves is gradually bringing the heart rate down, and stretching out those muscles that you’ve forced to work so hard.
Why do we need to gradually lower the heart rate and stretch?
- To send oxygen to the working muscles
- To get rid of carbon dioxide
- To get rid of lactic acid
- To stretch out the muscles to prevent soreness (Delayed Onset of Muscle Soreness, DOMS)
- To prevent injury
As you may or may not know, we require oxygen to do absolutely everything, and this therefore includes exercising. When we exercise, the by-products are carbon dioxide and lactic acid (which makes your legs feel like jelly). Therefore, this needs to be removed from our system by breathing. Lactic acid is broken down by oxygen, into carbon dioxide and water. When we breathe out (because we breath out carbon dioxide) we are breathing out the carbon dioxide and lactic acid. We do not want to keep lactic acid in our system because it makes us incredibly fatigued. Stretching allows us to maintain a good range of motion, it prevents soreness, improves flexibility and also gives a really rewarding feeling of ‘ah I’ve worked hard’. It also prevents injury because it lengthens the muscles and therefore improves it’s ability to produce the movement that you want it to do.
I hope this blog has been useful and has persuaded you to use those valuable 5 minutes at the end of the workout, you’ll only ever be stronger and more flexible as a result!
© 2018. Naomi Laws. All rights reserved.