If working out is part of your daily schedule, then you might be familiar with the concept of warming up exercises.
Warm up exercises help you lay the base for an effective workout period.
Warm up exercises are considered an important element for a smooth and injury free workout session.
They help build the momentum, create some tension and stress in your muscles, raise your body’s blood flow rate and increase its temperature.
Just like the way that warm up exercises help you get started for your workout sessions, there are also a few exercises that you need to do at the end of your workout sessions as well.
In simple words, there are exercises that are considered important to end your workout session in a smooth and effective manner.
These exercises are called ‘Cool Down’ exercises.
Purpose of doing a ‘Cool Down’ exercise
During the workout sessions, tension and stress is built in your muscles and other areas of your body that needs to be reduced and eased out at the end.
So after a vigorous and tough workout activity time, engaging your body in a cool down exercise can help bring the following benefits or serve the following purposes to it –
- It makes up for a perfect ending step to slow down the intensity with which you have been working out.
- It helps you bring your body to the pre exercise phase by lowering your heart rate to the normal level, reducing your body’s temperature and bringing back your body’s blood flow rate to its initial point, etc.
- It helps in releasing the tension and stress built in your muscles and let it restore their length and come to a relaxing point in a slow and gradual manner.
- It helps in transitioning your overall body and mind back to its normal resting state.
- It acts as a preventive measure against feeling dizzy or lightheadedness, conditions which arise when there is an issue with the blood circulation in your body. This usually happens during workout sessions that your blood may start to pool in veins or other parts of your body, etc.
- It also acts to prevent the stiffness and cramping in your muscles due to building up of lactic acid. A simple few minutes of muscle stretching is enough to aid this prevention.
- It helps in regaining the motion and free movement of your muscles and body. For example, sometimes after a hard workout session, it is not possible to stand up or walk for some time due to the stress and tension that has been building up or if you are feeling dizzy.
12 Most effective cool down exercises to do after every workout activity
Given the above benefits of integrating cool down exercises in your daily workout schedules, now let us look at some of the easiest and simple cool down exercises that you can start with right now.
Although the cool down exercises are generally considered simple and very effective, if you face any trouble in the beginning in getting along with them, do not just give up that easily.
Start with some easy ones and try a bit harder and hopefully whether you are a kid, adult or an old person, man or woman, with little complexity and determination, you will certainly end up finding these cool down exercises to be really helpful and comfortable.
So let’s begin.
1. Light jogging on the spot or walking
To begin with, a light jogging just on the spot where you are standing right now, can be an easy to do cool down exercise.
It does not require for you to go on a track or outside. Just begin jogging on your spot for roughly four to six minutes.
Aside from light jogging on the spot, you can also start to walk slowly. If you are in a big hall or a court, you can take its rounds.
A walk towards the changing room or the shower area in your gym may also be enough after a short workout session.
2. Knee-to-chest pose
Without standing up, just comfortably lie on your back, making sure your body is straight and at ease.
Now raise your one knee towards your chest and with your hands in a clasping mode, hold your knee for 30 seconds to one minute.
Let it go after this, back to the straight body lying position as before.
Give a rest of maximum 2 seconds and then again repeat the same procedure with the second leg.
Keep repeating the procedure with each leg at a time.
A maximum of five minutes need to be utilized for this cool down exercise as the number of turns for each leg, with a 30 seconds to one minute hold, should not be more than five times.
3. Stretching your upper body
This cool down exercise of stretching your upper body can be done while sitting in a normal manner or in a standing position.
Again clasp your hands and raise them straight towards the ceiling. Try stretching your palms (with both palms facing opposite to each other) in this manner.
After doing this in the upward ceiling facing direction, stretch them in the direction of your chest.
Stretch and hold for a couple of seconds before changing the direction from top side to the chest side and then again to top and so on.
4. Child pose
Child pose or child’s resting pose is a cool down exercise that can also be done right at the spot you currently are.
Just make sure that there is enough space for you to easily lie down, even though this exercise does not need any full body lying down.
Raise your body with the support of your palms pressing towards the floor on one end and your foot toes helping raise your legs straight, all making your body form an ‘n’ or a hill shape.
Keep this position for some time and then make your body fall but in a way similar to a robotic styled folding motion.
Start coming down towards the surface, with your body shifting its standing support from the toes to the upper side of your foot, then your stomach resting on your thighs and eventually with your hands stretched and laid out on the floor.
5. Seated forward bend
Seated forward bend is a cool down exercise which is also known as intense dorsal stretch.
This cool down exercise can also be done right at the place you are sitting, but just make sure that there is enough room for you to stretch out your legs.
To do the seated forward bend cool down exercise, stretch your hands towards your toes and grasp them individually i.e. right hand holding the right toe and similarly left hand holding the left toe.
Now bend your body in the forward direction, with your stomach trying to rest on the thighs and your head trying to touch your knees.
Stay holding this position for 30 seconds to one minute before going back in the original position.
Repeat the exercise for roughly 10 to 15 minutes.
6. Reclining butterfly pose
The reclining butterfly pose cool down exercise is yet another cool down exercise that combines sitting and backside lying poses.
While being in a sitting position, bring both of your leg soles together and touch them closely.
This will form a diamond shape with your legs.
Now slowly try going back to rest your back on the floor.
Hold this position for a few seconds and then return to the original position of sitting.
Repeat the same process for a couple of times until you finally have relaxed your mind and body.
During the resting position, you can either keep your hands on each side of the floor or put them on top of your stomach.
Also, instead of forming a diamond shape by bringing your leg soles together, you can fold your legs in the yoga folding position and then follow the same procedure of lying on the back, raising again and lying again and so on.
7. Downward dog pose
Downward dog pose or downward facing dog is a cool down exercise that is much similar to the child’s pose exercise discussed above.
Form a plank or tabletop position, with your hand resting on your palm on one side and your lower side resting partially on your foot and with the rest of the body raised to form an ‘n’ or a hill shape.
This exercise basically involves forming two straight positions with your body, one at a time and without resting or falling towards the ground.
The first straight position starts from your palms and goes all the way to the top of your hips, the area where you bend your body.
The second position starts from your foot resting completely on the floor and forming a straight position that goes all the way to your shoulder area and if possible with your head aligning in the straight direction as well to reduce the tension in your neck and shoulder muscles.
Now shift from one position to another, holding for a few seconds in between each.
The shifting position will work as an old style weighing machine, with when your one side (hips) is up, your other side (the head) goes down and vice versa.
Try doing it for a couple of times before moving on to the next or calling it an off.
8. Simple quad stretch
Simple quad stretch or standing quadriceps stretch is a cool down exercise to be done in a standing position.
Just stand straight and while keeping a balance and avoiding any deformation or falling of your body on either side, raise your one foot towards your hip and grab your knee with the hand on that side.
Try to put a little bit of pressure to stretch your leg muscles and keep holding your knee for the time until tension starts to build and you want it to let it go.
Release your knee and do the same with the other side.
Keep doing it for about 10 to 15 minutes and you will feel good.
During this cooling down exercise, try to maintain the balance of your body as much as possible since you will be standing on a single leg while simultaneously resisting the tension being built up in the raised one.
9. Shoulder stretch
Shoulder stretching cool down exercises are great to release the pain and stretch the muscles in your hand.
It can be done while sitting down on the floor or while standing straight.
Just reach your one hand, for example right, towards the other while keeping a level with your shoulder.
Remember no raising up or lowering down of your hand in this exercise. Just let it remain at the level of the shoulder or its shoulder joint.
Now with your right hand stretching towards the left shoulder, take your left hand and either touch its palm on the right hand’s shoulder joint or place it on the right hand elbow and try bringing the right hand towards your torso.
Hold this stretch for 20 to 30 seconds before letting it go and then repeating the same procedure with the left hand and so on.
A set of 5 to 10 stretches for each hand would be enough.
A point to note here is that be careful while bringing your hand towards your torso. Put stress while doing it but do not put too much of it.
10. Corpse pose
This is again a very simple and easy to do cooling down exercise and requires you to only lay down on your back in the most convenient and comfortable manner.
So make sure that you have enough space to lie down easily on the floor.
Now after lying down with your back on the floor, keep your head straight up, your hands lying on each side of the stomach and with open palms facing upwards, and your legs a bit stretched or at a distance from each other towards the foot area.
All you now need to do is to keep relaxing in this position and let your body muscles lose their firmness and the tension built during the workout.
While doing this, take deep breaths and hold each one for a few seconds before releasing it.
Stay in this position for 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how much stressed out you are and till you feel completely eased out.
11. Shaking your body
While in a standing position, you can also shake your body to throw away the tension and stress gained during the hectic workout session.
Start with shaking your one hand, then the other, then both, then one leg and then the other leg and then finally your entire body.
Just spend 10 to 15 seconds on shaking each part of your body.
12. Standing forward bend
For the standing forward bend cooling down exercise, stand straight and raise both of your hands straight up towards the ceiling.
Now bring them down slowly and gradually towards the tip of your toes, while also bending your body during this.
Try to touch your fingers with the top of your toes while keeping your legs straight and avoiding any bending.
For beginners, it is quite hard to reach out the toes as most people are only able to reach the level of their knees while keeping their legs straight.
So try to stretch out to reach the bottom as much as possible and then hold for a few seconds before again raising your hands straight up towards the ceiling.
Repeat it for a couple of times until you finally feel a sense of relaxation in your entire body.
No matter how much time you allocate for your gym workouts, always leave a room for some quick cool down exercises and do not leave in a hurry without doing them.
Make it a routine to always end your workout sessions with a cooling down exercise.
This is because a hectic gym workout time followed by a cooling exercise session will help bring your body back to its normal tendency and avoid any adverse effects on its mental and overall body health.