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Cooling Down After Exercise No Longer Considered Important

Do You Cool Down After Exercising?

Today I ran for 60 minutes and slowed to a walk for the last two blocks to cool down, allowing my heart rate to lower to something closer to my normal range. I stretched my calves as I walked up the stairs to my porch. Once inside, I stretched for five minutes or more, and it felt great. But I just read that the importance of cooling down is in question. According to an article in the New York Times, the notion of the cool-down remains from the bygone era when lactic acid was believed to cause post-workout muscle soreness. We know now that lactic acid actually fuels the muscles and a little cool-down does nothing to flush the once believed cause of pain out of the muscle. Why the benefits of a cool-down and pain prevention might be mythic, there are times when it is necessary. The NY Times explains:

Exercise researchers say there is only one agreed-on fact about the possible risk of suddenly stopping intense exercise. When you exercise hard, the blood vessels in your legs are expanded to send more blood to your legs and feet. And your heart is pumping fast. If you suddenly stop, your heart slows down, your blood is pooled in your legs and feet, and you can feel dizzy, even pass out.

The cool-down is especially important for elite athletes since they have slower heart rates than the average joe and due to their high fitness level their heart rates return to normal quickly as well, making the pooling of blood even more intense.

I personally enjoy a cool-down period. It punctuates a hard workout and gives me time to transition into my next feat — be it navigating the kids' car pool or making dinner. What about you?

Image Source: Getty
Allytta Allytta 7 years
it's such a natural thing to do after running. i walk up to the park (8min walk), run there because it's perfect for runners, and walk back. i don't want to sit down or go inside right after running, i want to cool down, it's like an instinct and we should always listen to our body. but i don't cool down after biking... weird :)
cg130 cg130 8 years
My cool-down after running is usually walking a lap; after strength-training I walk or bike home from the gym.
WilfredWong WilfredWong 8 years
I usually jog, run with some high spikes getting my heartrate up to 160 then jog again for about 40 minutes; my average heartrate hovers around 130; then I do about 20 minutes of strength training and sometimes end up with 4-6 easy laps in the pool.
nutrihuney nutrihuney 8 years
I always do a five minute cool down or however long it takes to get my heartrate down to about 90 bpm, then I head to the mats to stretch.
insanitypepper insanitypepper 8 years
I have to cool down after intense cardio or else my blood pools in my arms. Not comfortable!
Spectra Spectra 8 years
I do, only because my HR goes back to normal really quickly and if I don't cool down, I get lightheaded. So I generally cool down a little bit before ending my workout.
esmerb esmerb 8 years
Only after cardio. My cool down consists of walking back to my office (from the gym). It feels so good to just walk and cool down.
GlowingMoon GlowingMoon 8 years
chillchic chillchic 8 years
I only ever use the elliptical. I consider my walk home to be the cool down. I hope that counts.
darc5204 darc5204 8 years
I take a walk and stretch after a hard cardio, but never for strength training.
shiningeyes shiningeyes 8 years
Isn't the "agreed upon" reason a good enough reason to cool down? That's the main reason why I always cool down after my runs. Also, I usually do my strength workouts right after cardio. If I don't give myself enough time to cool down, I feel like I'm going to pass out when I start lifting.
simplyfab87 simplyfab87 8 years
I cooldown for 5 minutes after by hour long cardio. I don't usually do it after strength training.
ella1978 ella1978 8 years
I do a 5 minute cool down after an hour and half of cardio, but maybe just a minute or two if less. Then I stretch for about 3-5 minutes. Helps me not to be sore the next day!
natasha1970 natasha1970 8 years
Here's my problem. I do 25 minutes of the cross trainer and take my heart rate all the way up to 160 and then I cool down for 3 minutes....right after I hop on the treadmill (since the heart rate is pretty high) and start running/walking....then cool down for 4 question is: do I risk getting any of these effects by cooling down and then taking it up very high again? Does anyone know? I don't feel any way but i always wonder if i am doing the right thing.
runningesq runningesq 8 years
swimming? yes biking? sometimes running? no
lydialee_home lydialee_home 8 years
I only cool down after my cardio. I found it hard to drink/eat when my heart rate is high. On a typical run day, I will start to jog on the last 2 blocks, and then walk back home to stretch before I eat/drink.
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