Cooling down, also called warming down, is an easy exercise that will allow the body to gradually transition from an exertional state to a resting or near-resting state. Depending on the intensity of the exercise, cooling down can involve a slow jog or walk, or with lower intensities, stretching can be used. Cooling down allows the heart rate to return to its resting rate. Studies are currently inconclusive as to whether actually reduces delayed-onset muscle soreness and muscle soreness is not caused by lactate production during intense exercise. Anecdotally cooling down may reduce dizziness for professional or serious athletes and vocal performers after strenuous workouts. Studies have shown a weak correlation between cooling down and less muscle delayed-onset muscle soreness, however the majority of recent studies discount this relationship. One study has shown that some certain athletes who perform an extensive cool-down are less likely to become injured.
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), stretching, and rehydration. Durations can vary for different people, but 3–7 minutes is considered adequate.
During aerobic exercise, peripheral veins, particularly those within muscle, dilate to accommodate the increased blood flow through exercising muscle. The skeletal-muscle pump assists in returning blood to the heart and maintaining cardiac output. A sudden cessation of strenuous exercise may cause blood to pool in peripheral dilated veins and the heart must beat faster and harder to adequately oxygenate the body and maintain blood pressure. A cool-down period allows a more gradual return to venous tone, and allows a gradual decline in heart rate that reduces stress on the organ. Resting Heart rate after a cool down period of 6 minutes is notably lower than after 6 minutes of total rest following equal exertion.
- Rusty Smith: Warming Up & Cooling Down Makes for a Better Workout
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- Kolata, Gina (13 October 2009). "Is the Exercise Cool-Down Really Necessary?". The New York Times (New York).
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