Do you hate to stretch it out after your sweat sesh? Are you already jetting out of the gym before the cool down starts? It can be tempting to skip the cool down and rush off before class finishes to grab the first shower, but here’s a few reasons that cool down and final stretch might be something you stick around for.
- Your heart rate slows down. When you are doing a workout where your heart rate is pushed to a really high level, it’s important to give it a chance to return back to normal. When you’re working out, you also force your heart to work harder, your veins to pump extra blood and when you cool down, you keep the blood from pooling. Cooling down is a way to keep your circulation “moving” and heart rate and blood pressure returning to normal levels so that blood doesn’t pool in engorged muscles causing dizziness and fainting.
- Time to refocus. Not only does a cool down provide you with some physiological benefits, mentally it just feels good, says Dr. Jenni Bruning Brown, owner of Fly | A Fitness Revolution. “If you’ve just finished a really hard workout, it feels great to slow it down, refocus and take in how much hard work you’ve just done,” Jenni says. Your mind is still in endorphin mode, so when you allow yourself to shift into cool down mode, you’ll give yourself space to get more grounded and calm.
- You can improve your flexibility. After a workout, your body is warm and range of motion is often better for many of us. While research has shown that post-workout stretching doesn’t help to decrease injury or soreness, it can help you to improve flexibility and if you don’t do other yoga or stretching and flexibility classes or stretching, the cool down is your chance to improve your mobility and flexibility.
- It affects the other people in class. If you leave in the middle of a cool down, it may affect others who are trying to relax and reinvigorate. Choose your time to leave and if you do decide to go, do it before the cool down begins. Remember that many people use a cool down as a meditation or a time to let go of stress and worry. Seeing a door open and close or a light go on and off is a distraction and may create extra tension.
Giving yourself a few extra minutes to reflect and realign after a tough workout is well worth the time. That shower will be waiting for you post-cool down!