Cooling down is equally important at the end of your exercise session as it is to warm up. Do not neglect this part of the routine, however tired you are: just as you needed to raise the performance level of your cardiovascular system, so you now need to bring it gently back down to normal. If you stop exercising abruptly, blood may be trapped in the muscles, reducing blood supply to the rest of the body and leading to chest pain, dizziness and nausea. Excess lactic acid may build up round the joints, causing stiffness and reduced flexibility.
Why I need to cool down?
This is an important time for the body because a cool down:
- Helps the heart rate and respiration slow down gradually
- Helps avoid dizziness or fainting, which sometimes happens when exercise is stopped suddenly.
- Allows your muscles time to recover and repair for the next workout.
- Helps your muscles get rid of waste products such as lactic acid.
- Helps you end your workout on a good note.
Hold each stretch for a minimum of 20-30 seconds, breath comfortably, with deep breaths through your nose, and out via your mouth.
Knee lift and turn
- Stand with your back straight, feet slightly apart, knees slightly bent and your stomach tucked in. Place your hands on your hips to help you balance – or use the back of a chair for support if this is easier. Gently raise your right knee until your thigh is parallel to the floor and your knee is bent at an angle of 90 degree.
- Slowly move your knee out to the right as far as it will comfortably go. Hold for 1 to 2 seconds, then bring your knee back to face forward and lower gently to the floor. Repeat using your left leg, then repeat the whole sequence 5 to 10 times.
Bend and Swing
- Stand with your back straight, feet slightly apart, knees slightly bent and your stomach tucked in. Breathe in as you lift both arms to stretch out in front of you just above shoulder height.
- Breathe out as you bend your knees and hips slowly and swing your arms straight out behind you just above your hips. Don’t strain – take your arms just as far as is comfortable. Hold for 1 to 2 seconds, then breathe in and sweep your arms forward again, standing up as you do so to return to the start position. Keep your heels on the floor so that the straightening movement comes from your hips and knees. Repeat the whole sequence 5 to 10 times without pausing.
- Start in the same position as for the previous exercise. Lift your arms to stretch straight out in front of you at shoulder height.
- Bend your right elbow and push it backward, twisting your upper body to the right as far as it will comfortably go. Do not move your hips – keep them facing forward. Hold the position for 1 to 2 seconds, then slowly turn to face the front again. Repeat on the other side, then repeat the whole sequence 5 to 10 times.
Knee lift and turn
- Stand with your back straight, feet slightly apart, knees slightly bent and your stomach tucked in. Without turning your hips, lift your right heel to your left buttock. Return slowly to the start position, then raise your left heel to your right buttock. If you can do this easily, add arm movements: swing your left arm back to touch your raised right foot, stretching your right arm out in front of you.
- Start in the same position as for the Waist twist, above. With your hands on your hips, breathe in and step forward with your left leg. Leave your right foot where it is. Holding your breath and keeping your back and neck straight, bend your left knee to an angle of about 90 degrees and drop your right knee toward the floor. When you begin to feel tension in your left knee, stop and hold that position for 8 to 10 seconds. Breathe out and gently lift yourself back to a standing position. Repeat with the right foot forward, then repeat the whole sequence 5 to10 times.
- Kneel on the floor, sitting on your heels with your arms stretched out in front of you, hands on the floor and back and neck straight. Gently push your arms forward as you lower your body closer to the floor. When you feel a stretch across your shoulders, stop and hold that position for 8 to 10 seconds. Slowly return to the start position and repeat 5 to 10 times.
Eat a light snack at least 30-60 minutes after your workout to help your body replace its energy stores and start repairing the body. Experts generally recommend something with both carbs and protein such as yogurt, a smoothie or a half of a turkey sandwich. You should also make sure you drink plenty of water after your workout as well.