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Last Updated on August 28, 2018

15 Most Effective Cool Down Exercises For Every Workout

15 Most 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.

What are 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.

15 Most effective cool down exercises

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.

3. Stretch your 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.

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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. Stretch your arms

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. Stretch out your 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.

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?

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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.

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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.

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.

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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.

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.

The bottom line

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.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Joseph Hindy

A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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Last Updated on August 20, 2019

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

How to Control Your Thoughts and Be the Master of Your Mind

Your mind is the most powerful tool you have for the creation of good in your life, but if not used correctly, can also be the most destructive force in your life.

Your mind, more specifically, your thoughts, affect your perception and therefore, your interpretation of reality. (And here’s Why Your Perception Is Your Reality.)

I have heard that the average person thinks around 70,000 thoughts a day. That’s a lot, especially if they are unproductive, self-abusive and just a general waste of energy.

You can let your thoughts run amok, but why would you? It is your mind, your thoughts; isn’t it time to take your power back? Isn’t it time to take control?

Choose to be the person who is actively, consciously thinking your thoughts. Become the master of your mind.

When you change your thoughts, you will change your feelings as well, and you will also eliminate the triggers that set off those feelings. Both of these outcomes provide you with a greater level of peace in your mind.

I currently have few thoughts that are not of my own choosing or a response from my reprogramming. I am the master of my mind, so now my mind is quite peaceful. Yours can be too!

Who Is Thinking My Thoughts?

Before you can become the master of your mind, you must recognize that you are currently at the mercy of several unwanted “squatters” living in your mind, and they are in charge of your thoughts. If you want to be the boss of them, you must know who they are and what their motivation is, and then you can take charge and evict them.

Here are four of the “squatters” in your head that create the most unhealthy and unproductive thoughts:

1. The Inner Critic

This is your constant abuser who is often a conglomeration of:

  • Other people’s words; many times your parents.
  • Thoughts you have created based on your own or other peoples expectations.
  • Comparing yourself to other people, including those in the media.
  • The things you told yourself as a result of painful experiences such as betrayal and rejection. Your interpretation creates your self-doubt and self-blame, which are most likely undeserved in cases of rejection and betrayal.

The Inner Critic is motivated by pain, low self-esteem, lack of self-acceptance and lack of self-love.

Why else would this person abuse you? And since this person is actually you– why else would you abuse yourself? Why would you let anyone treat you this badly?

2. The Worrier

This person lives in the future; in the world of “what ifs.”

The Worrier is motivated by fear which is often irrational and with no basis for it. Occasionally, this person is motivated by fear that what happened in the past will happen again.

3. The Reactor or Trouble-Maker

This is the one that triggers anger, frustration and pain. These triggers stem from unhealed wounds of the past. Any experience that is even closely related to a past wound will set him off.

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This person can be set off by words or feelings, and can even be set off by sounds and smells.

The Reactor has no real motivation and has poor impulse control and is run by past programming that no longer serves you, if it ever did.

4. The Sleep Depriver

This can be a combination of any number of different squatters including the inner planner, the rehasher, and the ruminator, along with the inner critic and the worrier.

The Sleep Depriver’s motivation can be:

  • As a reaction to silence, which he fights against
  • Taking care of the business you neglected during the day
  • Self-doubt, low self-esteem, insecurity and generalized anxiety
  • As listed above for the inner critic and worrier

How can you control these squatters?

How to Master Your Mind

You are the thinker and the observer of your thoughts. You must pay attention to your thoughts so you can identify “who” is running the show; this will determine which technique you will want to use.

Begin each day with the intention of paying attention to your thoughts and catching yourself when you are thinking undesirable thoughts.

There are two ways to control your thoughts:

  • Technique A – Interrupt and replace them
  • Technique B – Eliminate them altogether

This second option is what is known as peace of mind!

The technique of interrupting and replacing is a means of reprogramming your subconscious mind. Eventually, the replacement thoughts will become the “go to” thoughts in the applicable situations.

Use Technique A with the Inner Critic and Worrier; and Technique B with the Reactor and Sleep Depriver.

For the Inner Critic

When you catch yourself thinking something negative about yourself (calling yourself names, disrespecting yourself, or berating yourself), interrupt it.

You can yell (in your mind), “Stop! No!” or, “Enough! I’m in control now.” Then, whatever your negative thought was about yourself, replace it with an opposite or counter thought or an affirmation that begins with “I am.”

For example, if your thought is, “I’m such a loser,” you can replace it with, “I am a Divine Creation of the Universal Spirit. I am a perfect spiritual being learning to master the human experience. I am a being of energy, light, and matter. I am magnificent, brilliant, and beautiful. I love and approve of myself just as I am.”

You can also have a dialogue with yourself with the intention of discrediting the ‘voice’ that created the thought, if you know whose voice it is:

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“Just because so-and-so said I was a loser doesn’t make it true. It was his or her opinion, not a statement of fact. Or maybe they were joking and I took it seriously because I’m insecure.”

If you recognize that you have recurring self-critical thoughts, you can write out or pre-plan your counter thoughts or affirmation so you can be ready. This is the first squatter you should evict, forcefully, if necessary:

  • They rile up the Worrier.
  • The names you call yourself become triggers when called those names by others, so he also maintains the presence of the Reactor.
  • They are often present when you try to fall asleep so he perpetuates the Sleep Depriver.
  • They are a bully and is verbally and emotionally abusive.
  • They are the destroyer of self-esteem. They convince you that you’re not worthy. They’re a liar! In the interest of your self-worth, get them out!

Eliminate your worst critic and you will also diminish the presence of the other three squatters.

Replace them with your new best friends who support, encourage, and enhance your life. This is a presence you want in your mind.

For the Worrier

Prolonged anxiety is mentally, emotionally and physically unhealthy. It can have long-term health implications.

Fear initiates the fight or flight response, creates worry in the mind and creates anxiety in the body.

You should be able to recognize a “worry thought” immediately by how you feel. The physiological signs that the fight or flight response of fear has kicked in are:

  • Increased heart rate, blood pressure, or surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tense

Use the above stated method to interrupt any thought of worry and then replace it. But this time you will replace your thoughts of worry with thoughts of gratitude for the outcome you wish for.

If you believe in a higher power, this is the time to engage with it. Here is an example:

Instead of worrying about my loved ones traveling in bad weather, I say the following (I call it a prayer):

“Thank you great spirit for watching over _______. Thank you for watching over his/her car and keeping it safe, road-worthy, and free of maintenance issues without warning. Thank you for surrounding him/her with only safe, conscientious, and alert drivers. And thank you for keeping him/her safe, conscientious, and alert.”

Smile when you think about it or say it aloud, and phrase it in the present tense; both of these will help you feel it and possibly even start to believe it.

If you can visualize what you are praying for, the visualization will enhance the feeling so you will increase the impact in your vibrational field.

Now take a calming breath, slowly in through your nose, and slowly out through the mouth. Take as many as you like!

Replacing fearful thoughts with gratitude will decrease reactionary behavior, taking the steam out of the Reactor.

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For example:

If your child gets lost in the mall, the typical parental reaction that follows the fearful thoughts when finding them is to yell at them.

“I told you never to leave my sight.” This reaction just adds to the child’s fear level from being lost in the first place. Plus, it also teaches them that mom and/or dad will get mad when he or she makes a mistake, which may make them lie to you or not tell you things in the future.

Change those fearful thoughts when they happen:

“Thank You (your choice of Higher Power) for watching over my child and keeping him safe. Thank you for helping me find him soon.”

Then, when you see your child after this thought process, your only reaction will be gratitude, and that seems like a better alternative for all people involved.

For the Trouble-Maker, Reactor or Over-Reactor

Permanently eliminating this squatter will take a bit more attention and reflection after the fact to identify and heal the causes of the triggers; but until then, you can prevent the Reactor from getting out of control by initiating conscious breathing as soon as you recognize his presence.

The Reactor’s thoughts or feelings activate the fight or flight response just like with the Worrier. The physiological signs of his presence will be the same. With a little attention, you should be able to tell the difference between anxiety, anger, frustration, or pain:

  • Increased heart rate and blood pressure; surge of adrenaline
  • Shallow breathing or breathlessness
  • Muscles tension

I’m sure you’ve heard the suggestion to count to ten when you get angry—well, you can make those ten seconds much more productive if you are breathing consciously during that time.

Conscious breathing is as simple as it sounds; just be conscious of your breathing. Pay attention to the air going in and coming out.

Breathe in through your nose:

  • Feel the air entering your nostrils.
  • Feel your lungs filling and expanding.
  • Focus on your belly rising.

Breathe out through your nose:

  • Feel your lungs emptying.
  • Focus on your belly falling.
  • Feel the air exiting your nostrils.

Do this for as long as you like. Leave the situation if you want. This gives the adrenaline time to normalize.

Now you can address the situation with a calmer, more rational perspective and avoid damaging behavior.

One of the troubles this squatter causes is that it adds to the sleep depriver’s issues. By evicting, or at least controlling the Reactor, you will decrease reactionary behavior, which will decrease the need for the rehashing and ruminating that may keep you from falling asleep.

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Master your mind and stop the Reactor from bringing stress to you and your relationships!

For the Sleep Depriver

(They’re made up of the Inner Planner, the Rehasher and the Ruminator, along with the Inner Critic and the Worrier.)

I was plagued with a very common problem: not being able to turn off my mind at bedtime. This inability prevented me from falling asleep and thus, getting a restful and restorative night’s sleep.

Here’s how I mastered my mind and evicted the Sleep Depriver and all his cronies.

  1. I started by focusing on my breathing—paying attention to the rise and fall of my belly—but that didn’t keep the thoughts out for long. (Actually, I now start with checking my at-rest mouth position to keep me from clenching.)
  2. Then I came up with replacement strategy that eliminated uncontrolled thinking—imagining the word in while breathing in and thinking the word out when breathing out. I would (and do) elongate the word to match the length of my breath.

When I catch myself thinking, I shift back to in, out. With this technique, I am still thinking, sort of, but the wheels are no longer spinning out of control. I am in control of my mind and I choose quiet.

From the first time I tried this method I started to yawn after only a few cycles and am usually asleep within ten minutes.

For really difficult nights, I add an increase of attention by holding my eyes in a looking-up position (Closed, of course!). Sometimes I try to look toward my third eye but that really hurts my eyes.

If you have trouble falling asleep because you can’t shut off your mind, I strongly recommend you try this technique. I still use it every night. You can start sleeping better tonight!

You can also use this technique any time you want to:

  • Fall back to sleep if you wake up too soon.
  • Shut down your thinking.
  • Calm your feelings.
  • Simply focus on the present moment. 

The Bottom Line

Your mind is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for constructive purposes or for destructive purposes.

You can allow your mind to be occupied by unwanted, undesirable and destructive tenants, or you can choose desirable tenants like peace, gratitude, compassion, love, and joy.

Your mind can become your best friend, your biggest supporter, and someone you can count on to be there and encourage you. The choice is yours!

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Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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