Finding an exercise routine that works can take some time and tinkering, because there is an abundance of conflicting guidelines on the best ways to work out. The necessity of a cool down is one hotly debated aspect of exercise, because some say it has a wealth of benefits while others will tell you it’s a waste of time. While it is worth noting that a cool down might not do much to ease your post-workout soreness, there are several other benefits that make this part of your workout a worthwhile component.
Return your body to a normal state
Have you ever stepped off a treadmill or finished a set of shoulder presses to find yourself feeling a bit dizzy, disoriented, or out of balance? This is not an unusual sensation, because you’ve just taken your body from a very active state to a relaxed one. An active cool down with dynamic stretching, light cardio, and work with a muscle roller or stability ball can provide a buffer that lets your heart rate adjust more gradually and increases blood flow to target muscle groups. You might still feel sore the next day, but you will experience some serious long-term benefits by taking the time to cool down.
Reduce your chances of injuries
Similar to a pre-workout warm up, your cool down routine can be a protective measure for your body, since it might help increase flexibility and accelerate muscle healing. These effects can reduce your likelihood for injuries in subsequent workouts.
Take stock of your workout
Cool downs can have mental benefits as well as physical ones. For example, your cool down may provide you with a chance to think about the effectiveness of your workout and identify any areas where you’d like to improve. Plus, stretching in front of a mirror might give you some better perspective on how your workouts have affected your appearance, offering some positive motivation to keep coming back to the gym. Finally, a cool down might put you in a better state of mind for relaxation, which is as essential for your health as moderate to intense physical activity.