A cool-down is the portion immediately following an exercise session that allows the body to gradually transition from an exertional state to a resting or near resting state. Cool-downs should involve a gradual yet continuous decrease in exercise intensity (i.e. from a hard run to an easy jog to a brisk walk), a period of stretching, and rehydration. Durations can vary for different people, but 5-10 minutes is considered adequate. A typical cool-down my consist of a slow jog or walk. Ingestion of a sports drink or some form of carbohydrate is recommended following exercise sessions that last longer than one hour.
Cooling down helps remove lactic acid and allows the heart rate to return to its resting rate. Contrary to popular belief, cool down does not appear to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness. Any soreness is likely a result of maximal or unaccustomed effort and soft-tissue damage caused by the activity. It is largely believed that DOMS is caused by actual damage or disruption to the body's muscle-cell membranes.A cool down will also allow the person to mentally transition to a non-exercise state, and to ensure adequate venous return and reduce the likelihood of dizziness or fainting. If blood is pooled (venous pooling) in the lower extremities from a sudden cessation of exercise, the high hydrostatic forces decrease venous return and blood pressure declines. Synchronously, the heart rate accelerates, which means the heart muscle needs more blood and oxygen when the oxygen supply may be compromised. Cooling down may also decrease the likelihood of muscle stiffness if stretching is performed.
If a cool-down is not performed after strenuous activity, depending on an individual's fitness level and body position, there is an increased chance of dizziness, fainting, heart attack, or stroke.
- ↑ unknown (n.d.). Cooling Down. Wikipedia.org. Retrieved on 2008-05-23.
- ↑ National Acadmey of Sports Medicine (2004). Optimum Performance Training for the Health and Fitness Professional, 2nd ed., Calabasas, CA: NASM.
- ↑ Brian Mac (n.d.). Warm up and Cool down. BrianMac.co.uk. Retrieved on 2008-05-23.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Brookes, Douglas S. (2004). The Complete Book of Personal Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 288-289.