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Anatomy of a Workout

The Cool Down


Updated October 18, 2006

Now comes the best part of the whole workout process - the 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 and blood pools in the legs
  • 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

Though the cool down is often the best part, many people skip it because they run out of time or just run out of steam and find they're ready to move on. But allowing yourself this time will help your body recover and this recovery will help you be prepared for the next workout. Take just a few minutes at the end of your workout (particularly your cardio workout) to do the following:

  1. Slow down. Just like your warm up, when you get to the end of your workout, slow down and gradually allow your heart rate to lower.
  2. Continue moving. Give yourself at least five minutes to move around, especially if you've been doing high intensity exercise.
  3. Cool off. Keep moving until you're not sweating anymore and your skin is cool to the touch. Use this time to sip water and rehydrate.
  4. Stretch. Once you've cooled off, this is an excellent time to stretch the muscles you've used during the workout. Stretching can help relax the body and increase flexibility. Make sure you hold each stretch for 15-30 seconds. Some common stretches include:
  5. Fuel up. 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.

You can also use this time for yoga exercises, which promote flexibility, balance and stability. By taking your body through flowing poses such as cat-cow, downward facing dog and warrior I you can both stretch and relax. End with corpse pose to give your body and mind a few minutes to enjoy how you feel. More Yoga-Pilates Workouts.

Flexibility Workouts

  • Relaxing Stretch on the Ball
  • Lower Body Stretches
  • Total Body Stretch
  • Seated Stretch for the Back, Neck & Shoulders

    Explore Your Workouts

    Taking the time to explore each phase of your workout can help you figure out where you need to focus more of your attention. Is it easy for you to get started and harder to keep going? If that's the case, you may want to try different activities or structure your workout in new ways to make it easier to finish. If you have a harder time getting started, focus all your energy on what you can do to make that phase easier to accomplish. Don't be afraid to experiment with your workouts to find what works best for you.

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