How to cool down after high-intensity exercise
Before carrying out any type of exercise, it's customary to warm up beforehand in order to stretch your muscles and prepare your body for the activity that's about to follow. This helps to reduce your risk of injury, such as pulling a muscle or tearing a ligament.
While it's important to warm up before exercising, it's equally important to cool down after your workout. However, this is a step that is often skipped or forgotten about.
When you carry out high-intensity exercise, your heart rate will increase and you're likely to work up a sweat. After your session, it can take a few moments for you to catch your breath. But rather than sit still, it's a good idea to move around gently to keep your blood flowing and help your heart rate return to normal.
Here are a few ways you can can cool down after your high-intensity workout:
Go for a walk
While you may have just been on a run, it's important to keep your legs moving for a couple of minutes afterwards. That's why treadmills have a 'cool down' setting – since a sudden stop in physical activity can cause your blood pressure to drop, making you feel dizzy.
After your run, cool off by going on a moderately-paced walk. It's a good idea to do this outside, as the fresh air will help you to relax and feel at ease.
Stretching for five to ten minutes after strength training or cardio will help to relieve muscle tension and improve bodily awareness.
When you stretch, the body's tension is improved and blood circulation is maintained. This is a great way to wind down, as your muscles will loosen and feel less tense.
It may be a good idea to listen to peaceful music while you stretch to help you enter a zone of relaxation.
Each time you exercise, you're using up water from your body, which is why you may feel dehydrated afterwards. It is important, therefore, to keep hydrated during and after your workout in order to replenish your body's water supplies. An easy way to see how much you need to drink after training is by comparing your weight before and after training. The difference is the water loss.
Drinking water will help you to cool down and feel revitalised after moderate to intense exercise, keeping feelings of dizziness or sickness at bay.
Have a massage
If you're feeling sore or tired after your workout, treat yourself to a massage.
Deep tissue or sports massages are specially tailored to relieve tension and stiff muscles, helping to destress and relax your body and mind. Your local gym or wellness centre may have a spa with trained physiotherapists on hand to offer the best cool down treatment for you.
What's more, hydrotherapy pools – which involve exercising in a heated pool – help to stretch and relieve aching muscles, and are also useful for individuals with health conditions like arthritis.