Nowadays people have a much better understanding that warming up before training is important to prevent injury, improve focus, and physically prepare for what they are about to do. However, as soon as they finish, they run out the door instead of performing a workout cooldown.
Cooling down can be just as important to your fitness and health as warming up, and it only take a few more minutes. Imagine you're in a car and you have to slam on the brakes to avoid an accident. As intense as that is, doing it was necessary. Now imagine slamming on the brakes repeatedly and trying to go from 70 to 0 in a second every time you drive. Eventually it will wear down your brakes and tires.
This same principle can be applied to training. Here are three benefits that cooling down can provide for you as an athlete.
1. Dial Back the Intensity
When you're training, you are going as hard and as fast as you can. That mentality can go with you as you carry on with the rest of your day. Feeling rushed to do as much as possible in as little time as possible can be stressful. Cooling down can help you dial that intensity back so that when you're done, you feel accomplished and you can focus on your next task with a sense of normalcy.
2. Aid Recovery
When you go through a cool down process, it's like telling your body the intense training that you've done is over and recovery can begin. You might notice your breathing return to a normal pattern and your heart rate slowly return to a resting pace. And those muscle fibers you've torn down will be ready for any and all nutrients you can give them so they can rebuild.
3. Provide Sense of Accomplishment
Instead of making a quick escape out the door and worrying about the next thing on your schedule, you can actually focus for a few minutes on the workout itself and how you performed that day. Those few minutes should result in your feeling more accomplished for what you did and motivate you even more for your next workout. There's nothing wrong with mentally patting yourself on the back while cooling down. As a matter of fact, it's a good thing to be proud of.
Below is a cooldown routine that takes less than five minutes that you can do at the end of all your workouts. Try it out for a couple of weeks and you should see the benefits for yourself.
Quick Cool Down Routine
Walk at a normal pace outside your gym or weight room or on a treadmill if weather doesn't allow you to go outside.
2 minutes of stretching the entire body
Perform a 10-second stretch of every major body part. While you do it, focus on your breathing and your heart rate. You should notice both returning to your normal patterns.
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