A cool-down will gradually remove waste products from the muscles and move the blood back to all of your vital organs.
After exercise, your muscles are full of cellular debris and carbon dioxide. A gradual slowing down of the heart rate will allow the circulatory system to exchange these waste products for nutrients. It is very important not to skip this essential part of an exercise routine.
A cool-down also helps to prevent muscle cramps during the middle of the night by removing the waste product lactic acid from the muscles. This happens from insufficient oxygen being unable to oxidize lactic acid, which would otherwise get rid of it from muscle. Inosine and Creatine supplements also help as preventive remedies to reduce the buildup of lactic acid in muscle. Recommended: Optimum Nutrition Creatine
Note: As exercise tolerance increases from repeated training, it takes increasingly longer before lactic acid builds up in muscle, so there is less of a chance of muscle cramps to develop.
Generally speaking, cooling down simply means you generally continue your workout session, but at a slower pace and reduced intensity.
Examples of Cool Down Activities
- After a brisk walk, walk slowly for five to 10 minutes.
- After a run, walk briskly for five to 10 minutes.
- After biking, spin on your bicycle at higher revolutions per minute (around 100) as you finish your exercise.
- After swimming, swim some leisure laps for five to 10 minutes, varying your strokes.
How Long Should You Cool Down?
If you work out for less than one hour, a 15-minute cool-down period will be sufficient. A workout of longer than one hour requires a cool-down period of 30 minutes or more.
See also: Issue 33: The Warm-Up