Having a cool down routine that works for you is essential after any workout. You should never do heavy exercise without a cool down. This leaves your muscles overworked, tense and retaining excess lactic acid, causing aches and pains the next day.
It also lowers your body temperature, breathing and heart rate back down to normal at a safe pace. Doing so too quickly can cause dizziness and even fainting.
Cool Down With These Easy Steps
We’ve put together a list of ideas for relaxing at-home cool down ideas that you should do as soon as you get home from your run or gym session. Create your own perfect routine!
1. Low-Intensity Exercise
After your high-intensity exercise, lower it down gradually. If you’ve been marathon training, finish by jogging and finally a 10-minute walk. If you have been using gym equipment for an hour, finish with a short yoga exercise.
This brings your breathing into focus and back down to its normal rate, which your body temperature and heart rate will follow.
Step 1 should always be followed by stretching. Try a ‘night-time’ yoga routine, that focuses on light stretching and controlled breathing to relax after a long day (Yoga With Adriene’s YouTube channel is full of perfect examples of this).
If yoga isn’t your thing, try a few of these stretches, remembering to complete your 10 minutes:
Hamstring stretch: lie on your back with one leg bent with the foot on the floor. Lift the other leg as high and straight as possible, with both hands pulling it towards you. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.
Calf stretch/lunge: stand up straight and step one leg forward, foot flat on the ground, leaning towards it slightly. Keep your other leg straight and flat on the ground. Hold for 15 seconds, and repeat.
Upper chest stretch: stand up straight with both feet planted shoulder-width apart. Lace your fingers behind your back, and straighten and raise your arms slightly to feel a deep stretch in the arms and across the chest.
Touch your toes: From a straight-up standing position, feet planted shoulder-width apart, bend down and touch your toes. This stretches your lower back, glutes and hamstrings.
Finish with rolling your head slowly in circles, spinning your arms slowly in wheels backwards and forwards, and shaking out your legs – do whatever feels good and relieving.
3. At-Home Massage
If you’re serious about your fitness and exercise, investing in a massage chair is an amazing purchase that you won’t regret. After a long workout and cool down stretching, sitting down in your massage chair is the most relaxing and therapeutic experience ever.
To find out more about the best massage chair for your needs and your home, check out the Top Massage Chairs guide, comparing 2017’s best chairs.
If you don’t have a spare $400, there are plenty of ways you can do this yourself. Get your partner to massage your back and feet; get a massaging facial tool; or a back-scratcher for your shower. These are all seriously satisfying ways to relax after intense exercise.
Of course, you could also book in for a full sports massage at your gym’s spa. Treat yourself!
4. Wind Down
Whether your workout was early in the morning or in the evening after work, treat yourself to some pampering chill-out time in the evening (AFTER you’ve done your stretching!)
Here’s some of our favorite wind down activities before a peaceful night’s sleep:
Face mask: use a face mask infused with your favorite scents, with the added benefit of having silky smooth skin afterwards. And remember men: these aren’t just for women!
Bath time: have a good soak in a tub full of bubbles, calming music and candles. The hot water helps relieve tension in the muscles and the stresses of the day.
Hot tea: have a decaf or herbal tea in your comfiest PJs before bed and get the best snooze of your life.
Remember, there’s no point being a fitness guru and then neglect to perform proper aftercare for your body! The minimum you should spend cooling down is 10 minutes.
For an ideal cool down, take some elements from each of these 4 categories and craft yourself a routine that works for you, depending on how much time you have to spare. Do your stretches and feel the difference!