Most people accept that exercise is beneficial. When performed correctly, it can help to lower your risk of getting lifestyle diseases like heart disease and diabetes. What is often neglected is that how you exercise is just as important as how much you exercise.
Exercising in the wrong way can cause injuries and generally discourage you from ever wanting to exercise again. Using the right methods to get into shape and to maintain that shape is essential.
One important aspect of good exercise is cooling down after your workout. Cooling down is the term used for transitioning from the state of working out to the state where you are resting. Cooling down is important for a variety of reasons including:
- You reduce the stress on your heart as it moves from a state of exertion to the normal state.
- It keeps you from feeling dizzy or uncomfortable due to blood pooling in your lower body when you are done exercising. This can happen as your veins get back to their normal size after growing to accommodate increased blood flow during exercise.
- It helps you feel good. After a hard workout, relaxing exercises feel good.
There are a lot of mythical benefits attributed to cooling down after exercise, but cooling down after a run is still good for you even without those benefits. Here are some of the better ways to do it:
1. Go for a Walk
Yes, it is just that simple. In fact, many believe walking to be the absolute best cool down exercise regardless of the type of exercise you do. Note that this type of walking is different from power walking that involves strenuous pumping of your arms and legs. To cool down after your workout you should go for a milder, more leisurely stroll.
2. Stretch Your Legs
Stretching your legs is one of the more popular ways for runner to cool down and continues to be recommended by most experts.
There are a number of widely-used leg-stretching exercises that range from simply touching your toes, to stretching your hamstring by pulling your leg up behind you.
3. Stretch Your Chest and Arms
You can stretch your chest muscles by lacing your fingers behind you and arching your back. Your arms can be stretched by holding your arm across your torso and stretching. These are important since virtually all exercises involve the use of your arms and chest muscles to some extent.
4. Stretch Your Core Muscles
Your core is one of those areas that not everyone exercises but is crucial to all forms of exercise. Your core should be one of the focus points of your exercise regimen as well as of your cool down routine.
One good way to do this is with the ‘cat cow pose’ popular in yoga. It involves getting on your hands and knees and arching your back and then bowing it out. This exercise helps to cool down your core and your back, two of the most important areas in exercise.
5. Targeted Drills
This means focusing your cool down exercises on the area that you just worked out. For example, someone who just completed an upper body workout could use the rowing machine to help cool down the muscles in their back and shoulders.
For runners, performing scissor kicks while lying down can be an effective way to target the muscles used while running.
6. Do Jumping Jacks
This versatile exercise can be used both as a warm-up exercise and for your cool down as well. The light exercise you get from jumping and spreading your legs and then closing them is perfect for helping your body to cool down after a strenuous workout. In addition, jumping jacks work out the whole body.
Not only does a dip in a pool feel good after a run, this is a form of exercise where the intensity can be varied. Treading water delivers the same kind of cool down benefits as jumping jacks in that it exercises the whole body.
8. Jog in Place
Since you have no forward momentum, your body does not have to work as hard to keep you moving. You are simply bringing your legs up in a brisk and rhythmic motion, which provides you with a less stressful version of running. All of this makes this exercise perfect for cooling down.
9. Yoga Poses
Not only can yoga improve your flexibility, it can provide you with an excellent cool down routine. Learning a few yoga poses and using them to cool down can help you to stretch parts of your body that are not normally stretched. According to expert, yoga stretches can send oxygen to hard-reach places in joints and tendons.
10. Use a Foam Roller
Using a foam roller is a good idea both before and after your workout. It can help to improve your flexibility as well as increase your circulation. Both of these can help to reduce your chance of injury and shorten your recovery time after a long run.
These are just a few of the many cool down exercises out there. What are some exercises that you have found to be particularly beneficial for cooling down after running? Feel free to comment below.