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15 Effective Cool Down Exercises For Every Workout

15 Effective Cool Down Exercises For Every Workout

Exercise is a very important part of one’s lifestyle. It can help keep your weight under control. It can lower the risk of diseases like diabetes, heart disease, and countless others. It’s also generally accepted that being in good shape is good for you. However, it’s not how much you exercise but how you exercise. Many people forget one of the most important parts of exercising, which is the cool down exercises.

Cool down exercises are defined as light exercise that helps your body transition from working hard to resting. This can be an important part of your exercise for many reasons. A few reasons include:

  • Reduces strain on your heart muscle as it goes from exerting itself back to normal.
  • Prevents dizziness and other discomfort from blood pooling in your lower extremities after exercise (caused by veins increasing in size to accommodate the increased blood flow from the heart).
  • Promotes a “feel good” feeling. After running hard, a nice walk afterward helps your legs feel better.

Cool down exercises are always good for you, even if they don’t do all the things that some people claim. So which ones are the best? We’ve run down 15 of the most effective cool down exercises for any workout.

1. Walking

The creme de la creme of cool down exercises, according to our research, is walking. It doesn’t matter what kind of work out you do; taking a nice walk afterward always seems to be toward the top of all the lists. When we say walking, we don’t mean power walking where you’re pumping your arms and legs. We’re talking a nice, leisurely stroll. You don’t even need to pump your arms. This allows for everything to return to normal but lets you keep moving while it happens. It’s a classic, it’s a favorite, and it’s also highly recommended.

2. Stretch those legs

While this mostly applies to runners, a great cool down exercise is stretching your legs. This includes all the classics like pulling your leg up behind you to stretch your hamstring or trying to touch your toes. There are other, more complex stretches that more or less stretch the same areas. Even if it was all upper body, a good stretch to the legs can be a great cool down exercise.

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3. Stretch that chest

A few of our cool down exercise choices will be stretching. This is just a heads up because they’re very effective for cooling down and they’re all pretty easy to do. A popular one is lacing your fingers behind your back, straightening out your arms and looking at the ceiling. This is effective at stretching your chest muscles.

4. Yep, get those arms too

If you’ve ever noticed, even runners stretch their arms before they go running. Consequently, it’s also one of the more effective cool down exercises. It helps get your shoulders and your arms loosened up. Nearly every exercise involves your arms to some extent, so getting them warmed up and cooled down is always a good idea.

There are a lot of popular arm stretches. Crossing your arm across your body and stretching is a good one. Placing your hand on your back can help stretch the back of your arms as well.

5. Finally, stretch out that core

The core of your body is often something that gets overlooked in both stretching and exercise in general. So it’s not only great to include in your cool down exercises, but also recommended since your core is, well, your core. You should be working it out no matter what. A popular yoga technique is to get on your hands and knees. Then arch your back like a cat followed by bowing it out like the letter C. This helps both your core and your back. Two essentials when exercising and cooling down.

6. Jumping jacks

Now we get back into lighter exercises that also work well for cool down exercises. A favorite is the jumping jack. Yes, it may seem a little bit like middle school gym class, but jumping jacks are actually an effective exercise. The motion of jumping, spreading, and closing your legs works almost your entire lower body. Meanwhile the act of putting your arms down, and bringing then back up to clap works a good portion of your upper body, so pretty much everything gets worked on.

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7. Swimming

If you have access to a pool at your home or your gym, a quick dip in the pool can be a great for cool downs. Treading water uses almost all the same muscles as jumping jacks do. Doing the Olympic-style swimming works those same muscles, but to a higher degree. So you can even vary your swimming intensity. Plus, who doesn’t love jumping into a nice cool pool after a long, arduous workout?

8. Get a massage

Okay, this one isn’t exercise on the face of it, but it can be effective as many cool down exercises. The point of cool down exercises is to transition your body from exerting to rest. Part of that is getting rid of pooled blood left over from when your veins and arteries pumping blood the body didn’t need anymore. While it’s preferred that you exercise this excess away, a significant other or a professional masseuse can go over your body for a few minutes with a massage and it accomplishes pretty much the same thing.

Do note, it’s not recommended to go straight from workout to massage. Doing at least a few cool down exercises first is preferable.

9. Exercise specific drills

This one is a little complex, but bear with us. If you’re a runner, you’ll obviously be working out your legs most of all. So doing some squats after a run keeps your legs pumping without the stress of actually running. These can be wonderful cool down exercises. If you’re lifting weights, you can decrease to a weight you can lift very easily and just do a lot of repetitions. For runners, laying down and doing scissor kicks can be an excellent cool down. If you’ve been cycling, start out in fifth gear, then gradually work your way down to first gear.

10. Exercise mimicry

Now we’re getting into the complicated sounding stuff. Oddly enough, it’s still not that complicated. Exercise mimicry is when you perform the same exercise you were just performing, but with less resistance. A couple of good examples are actually above. Lifting less weight and cycling in a lower gear are two great examples. However, you can do this without machines too. If you just finished playing soccer, then maybe a light jog or a brisk walk while dribbling the ball will be more effective. When you mimic your exercises with less resistance, you work the exact same muscles you just worked on. So you’re cooling down everything that got a work out.

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11. Do house chores

Welcome to the absurd portion of our list. Believe it or not, house chores can make excellent cool down exercises. Did you just take a long run? Pull out the lawn mower and cool down by walking it across your lawn. Do something a little more full body? Put your laundry away. You have to bend over, grab some clothing, fold it using your arms, walk to the chest of drawers using your legs, put it away, and repeat. Pretty much all house chores require light exercise which makes them perfect for cool down exercises.

Obviously, these are best used for when you work out at home. If you work out at the gym, your body will have recovered by the time you drive home and get started!

12. Dance

What is dance if not beautiful exercise? It can be a great way to cool down as well. If you’ve just finished an intense work out and you’re feeling out of it and tired, then why not shake it like a Polaroid picture? It works your muscles and it’s pretty light exercise unless you’re a backup dancer in a pop star music video. Plus, it can be fun which is also good for your mental fitness!

13. Kick your own booty

Jogging in place is another of the most effective cool down exercises. Without forward momentum, your body doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you in motion. You’re essentially just bring your legs up in place briskly. So it’s like running minus all the effort, which is what makes it a great cool down. If you’re wondering about the title of this one, it’s what I used to do when running in place back in PE class when I was a kid.

14. Tae Bo

We’ve all seen the videos. At least those of us from the 1990’s have seen the videos of all the healthy people doing punches and kicks as part of their workout. While doing this for awhile can be a great workout, doing them for a few minutes make them great cool down exercises. This combines work outs with stretching in many cases, as you can’t really kick that high without stretching your muscles a little bit. So it’s worth learning a few Tae Bo exercises for a more fun cool down experience.

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15. Yoga

There’s a reason why yoga is considered exercise. That’s because it actually is. People can say what they want, but have you ever tried to hold dhanurasana for more than a few minutes? It’s not easy. Yoga poses can make great cool down exercises because they’re essentially complex stretches that wildly help your flexibility. It’s well worth learning a good dozen or so Yoga poses and using them during your cool down to get that stretch into parts of your body you don’t normally stretch.

Cool down exercises wrap up

We’ve reached the end of our list and we hope you picked up a few more good cool down exercises for your repertoire. Remember, the purpose of a cool down is to help your body transition from working hard to hardly working without any ill effects. So really any stretch, exercise, or movement that can help you accomplish that task makes for a good cool down exercise.

Remember, cool downs may not be as important as warm ups according to many studies, but that doesn’t mean you should not do them. Cool downs are a great way to treat your body right after a rough exercise and if you treat your body right today, it’ll treat you right tomorrow.

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How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

How to Keep Yourself Awake at Work Without Caffeine

Keeping yourself awake at work can be a real challenge when you’re bored, exhausted or sleep-deprived.

But before you reach for that can of Red Bull, bottle of Mountain Dew, or pot of coffee, try these healthy remedies to stimulate your 5 different senses and help you stay awake at work:

Sight – Visual Stimulation

The first thing you do when you wake up is opening your eyes, so your visual stimulation is very important to keeping your energy level high.

1. Maximize your exposure to light.

Your body’s internal rhythm is regulated by the amount of light you receive. The greater your exposure, the more alert you will feel.

Open the shades and let in the sunlight. Step outside or look out the window. Turn on all the artificial lights in your office or around your work space.

2. Exercise your eyes (or give them a break).

Roll your eyes up and down, side to side and diagonally. Rotate them clockwise and then counterclockwise. Squeeze them shut and then open them wide. Do this several times.

Reading and sitting in front of a computer screen for long periods can lead to eye fatigue.

Take regular breaks with deliberate blinking and looking out into the distance.

3. Take note of your environment.

Learn to enjoy people-watching. Observe their activities, speech, body language and interactions with others. Notice the details of building, trees and other objects around you, including their color, shape and size.

By doing this, you’re not only relaxing your eye muscles but also calming your mind.

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Hearing – Auditory Stimulation

What you hear or listen to have direct effect on your brain. This is why we feel so annoyed and sometimes angry when we hear construction noise when we’re working.

4. Engage in conversation.

Talk to a friend or colleague. Trade funny stories. Discuss your business venture, a creative idea, the latest political scandal, or any other topic that interests you.

Practice mindful listening to what you and the other person are saying. Tune into the tone, volume and content of the conversation.

Learn how to practice better listening from this guide:

Why Listen to Reply Instead of Understand Is the Key to Failure

5. Listen to upbeat music.

Try hip hop, rock or jazz to keep you alert. Instrumental, non-distracting music works best.

Sing, whistle, and hum along if you can. Plug in the earphones if you must.

Smell – Olfactory Stimulation

If you’re feeling sleepy and suddenly smell the coffee, you’ll probably feel more energetic. This is why smell is an influential stimulation.

6. Work your nose.

Aroma therapists recommend essential oils of peppermint (to boost energy), rosemary (to build awareness), eucalyptus (to increase oxygen), cedarwood  (to activate your mind), and cinnamon (to improve your reaction time).

If you don’t have essential oils on hand, you can use lotions or burning candles that provide the same scents.

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Citrus like lemons, limes, grapefruits and oranges are also natural olfactory stimulants. Get a whiff of these citrus scents to stay awake.

Taste – Gustatory Stimulation

If you want an energetic day at work, you can’t let your tongue feeling plain and flavorless.

7. Have a good breakfast.

Start off with the most important meal of the day.

Think fresh, light and healthy: bran cereals, wholegrain breads, fruits, and yogurt.

Nix the heavy stuff like sausages, greasy eggs or pancakes.

Need some breakfasts inspirations? Check out these ideas:

20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

8. Drink lots of water.

Keep a glass or bottle of H2O near you and sip from it throughout the day. Dehydration can leave you feeling tired, sluggish and sleepy.

So make sure you drink enough water throughout the day. Not sure how much to drink? This can help you:

How Much Water Should You Drink Each Day (and How Much Is Too Much for You)

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Think that you’ve been drinking too little water? Try these friendly reminders:

3 Best Apps To Help You Drink Much More Water

9. Eat energy-boosting snacks.

Nuts and fruits (like bananas, apples and strawberries) are sure bets. Pairings with staying power include baby carrots with a low-fat cream cheese dip; celery sticks with peanut butter; red peppers with hummus; and plain yogurt with granola.

Avoid carb-filled, sugary snacks that make you crash and leave you feeling tired.

Here you can find some healthy snack ideas:

25 Healthy Snack Recipes To Make Your Workday More Productive

Touch – Tactile Stimulation

Last but not least, your sense of touch will make you physically feel more energetic and less stressful.

10. Splash cold water on your face.

Do this in the morning, during bathroom breaks and in the afternoon. Being exposed to cold water pushes your body to adjust and regulate its internal temperature, which in turn keeps you alert.

This works the same as you take a cold shower to increase mood and alertness. Take a look at this article to learn more about it:

5 Surprising Benefits of Cold Showers

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11. Use acupressure.

Apply pressure to, massage, or tap on the stimulation points of your body. These include the top of your head, the back of your neck, the back of your hand (between the thumb and index finger), just below the knee and your earlobes.

Watch this video to learn about the acupressure points you can try:

12. Get moving.

Move away from your chair and stand, walk, run or climb the stairs. Feel the earth under your feet. Stretch and twist. Do jumping jacks, lunges, push-ups and back bends.

And if you need to move more discreetly, wiggle your feet, bounce your knee up and down, scrunch your toes, or cross your legs.

You can also try some simple stretches and exercises at your desk:

Unlike addictive caffeine fixes, these remedies activate your senses, engage your attention, amp up your energy and prevent morning grogginess and afternoon slumps without the side effects or health risks.

Pick a few ways from this list of suggestions and practice them consistently. And when you do this consistently, you’ll soon see the positive results — a more energetic and productive you at work.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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