To Cool Down or Not to Cool Down, That is the Question

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Should you cool down after exercising? Here are the pros and cons, according to new research on the subject.

To Cool Down or Not to Cool Down, That is the Question

We all grew up learning from coaches, gym teachers, and personal trainers that the "cool down" was an important component of working out - either a light jog or walk was usually enough to suffice. However, a new study suggests that the "cool down" may not be all it is cracked up to be.

In a representative study published in 2012 in The Journal of Human Kinetics, 36 active adults underwent strenuous exercise (lunges specifically). Some of the group warmed up for 20 minutes beforehand, some of the group did nothing before or after, and part of the group did a 20 minute cool down.

The next day, all participants came back and were asked to explain their soreness levels. The group that warmed up felt no soreness, but the group that did nothing and the group that cooled down expressed similar levels of soreness.

Another couple studies researched professional soccer players in Spain, which were asked to complete various agility tests. One group did nothing after the test, and the other group did a 20 minutes "cool down." The players came back the next day and were asked to repeat the fitness test, and both groups did equally well the next day, suggesting the "cool down" did nothing to improve fitness.

Before you think that the "cool down" is obsolete, there is another factor to consider. Cool-downs have been shown to prevent venous pooling after exercise, which is the buildup of blood in the veins. As one exercises, more blood moves through the legs and pools in the lower body. If one were to abruptly quit exercising, it can lead to dizziness or fainting. So the "cool down" is still necessary to return the body to normal blood circulation.

Another factor to consider to keep the cool down as part of your routine is that it can feel nice. After one runs hard on a track or in a race, a light jog can return a sense of "normality" to the legs.

All in all, the cool down boils down, mostly, to personal preference. So tell us, do you always cool down after working out?

May 16, 2013
Ryan Newhouse - health writer, MyNetDiary

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