Thursday, June 26, 2008

What is a Cool Down?

Cooling down is a gradual decrease in activity level and completion of a series of stretching exercises to allow the body to recover from activities and reduces the effects of fatigue, including muscle soreness.

Why must we cool down?

Cooling down is also important as it prevents pooling of blood in the limbs, which can lead to fainting or dizziness. Following exercise, cooling down and stretching improves the recovery of the muscles, heart and other tissues through the removal of waste products.

How do we cool down?

An effective cool down consists of a gradual reduction in activity levels for around 5 to 10 minutes,i.e. slow job or walk, or some simple activity that require moderate effort, follow by general stretching.

The muscles and joints are hot following the intense work of contacting during activity, hence this is an ideal time to stretch them out again. Stretching at the end of each activity is the best way to improve and maintain flexibility as the muscles are warm and there is more time to hold the stretches for longer period. Stretching on a regular basis will encouraged participants to develop healthy exercise habits.

Benefits (references from SPARKPEOPLE)

A proper cool down provides many benefits. Some of these include:
  • Helps your heart rate and breathing return to normal gradually
  • Helps avoid fainting or dizziness, which can result from blood pooling in the large muscles of the legs when vigorous activity is stopped suddenly
  • Prepares your muscles for the next exercise session, enabling you to compete again at the same level within a short period of time (whether it’s tomorrow or a few days from now)
  • Removes waste products from your muscles, such as lactic acid, which can build up during vigorous activity
  • Reduces the immediate post-exercise tendency for muscle spasm or cramping
  • Reduces muscle soreness and stiffness

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