Top Cool-Down Exercises To Finish Your Workout
You don’t have time. You can’t be bothered. You don’t see the point. We totally get it - cooling down isn’t always at the top of your workout priority list. But although we understand how you feel, we’re here to try and convince you to love your cool-down exercises and explain exactly what to do.
Why should you include cool-down exercises?
Whenever you work out - and we can’t emphasise this enough - you should always make time for a warm-up. Giving yourself a few minutes to limber up and start with some low-intensity movement is important to gradually increase your body temperature, heart and breathing rate while preparing your muscles and joints for the work to come. Incorporating warm-up exercises is also a crucial part of reducing your risk of injury and ensuring you get the most out of your workout.
So what’s the point of a cool-down? Essentially it’s just like a warm-up, but in reverse. Just like you want to ease yourself into your workout, it’s best to ease yourself out of it, too. According to the Mayo Clinic, including a quick cool-down at the end of your Sweat session can help to gradually bring your heart rate, blood pressure, breathing and temperature back to a resting state.
If the intensity of your workout was low, a cool-down isn’t as necessary, but it’s still a great time to do some stretching when your body is warm.
As the American Heart Association says, stopping intense exercise like HIIT or heavy lifting too suddenly can cause light-headedness due to your heart rate and blood pressure dropping too quickly. A short cool-down will give your body time to bring down your heart rate and blood pressure, reducing the chance of any post-workout dizziness, fainting or nausea.
While a cool-down can be as simple as five minutes of walking on a treadmill, including stretching and foam-rolling in your cooldown routine can add extra benefits, boosting your muscle recovery and mobility, and reducing post-workout muscle aches (aka DOMS) to help you come back even stronger in your next session.
What if I don’t have time for a warm-up AND a cool-down?
If you’re stretched for time and are tossing up between a warming up and a cool-down, go for a good warm-up. We would obviously love you to include both, but it’s more important to sufficiently prepare your body for the work ahead by warming up effectively, as this will also reduce your risk of injury and ensure you get the most out of your session.
Cool-down exercises: What should you do?
At the most basic and easy level, all a cool-down needs to be is five minutes of light cardio such as walking or a gentle cycle to bring your heart rate and breathing back to base level. It doesn’t need to be anything complicated or lengthy if you don’t have much time.
If you have a few more minutes up your sleeve, grabbing a foam roller or adding in a few stretches is a great way to complement your cardio cool-down exercise. Every workout in the Sweat app ends with a series of cool-down stretches best-suited to the exercises you’ve just done, making your cool-down a total breeze.
Otherwise, if you’re looking for a few stretches that will give you a good bang for your buck and make your cool-down more time efficient by flexing multiple muscle groups at once, these are eight of our favourite cool-down stretches.
Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds (on both sides if it’s a unilateral stretch) in a position that feels strong without being painful. Continue to breathe deeply throughout each and avoid any bouncing motions.
World’s greatest stretch
Try this exercise to stretch your leg muscles, glutes, hip flexors, shoulders, chest, core and back.
Try this exercise to stretch your hips, back, chest and shoulders.
Try this exercise to stretch your leg muscles, back, shoulders and arms.
Try this exercise to stretch your chest, core, spine and glutes. You can stay on your forearms as pictured, or for a deeper stretch push up to your hands with your arms fully extended.
Try this exercise to stretch your spine, shoulders and neck.
Forward fold or toe touches
Try this exercise to stretch your leg muscles and lower back.
Hip flexor stretch
Try this exercise to stretch your hips, groin and quads.
Try this exercise to stretch your hips and glutes.
If you want to keep making progress towards your fitness goals and feeling your best, you’re going to want to prioritise your warm-up and cool-down. Start your Sweat 7-day free trial today and try a workout to get a taste of how good a cool-down can feel.
* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.