Advertising
Advertising

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.

Advertising

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?

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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.

Advertising

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

More by this author

10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know 12 Inspirational Speeches That Teach You the Most Valuable Life Lessons 15 Most Effective Cool Down Exercises For Every Workout 10 Things Guys Love That You Didn’t Expect 20 Google Search Tips to Use Google More Efficiently

Trending in Health

1 Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It 2 Anxiety Coping Mechanisms That Work When You’re Stressed to the Max 3 The Leading Causes of Prenatal Depression and How to Manage it Best 4 10 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know 5 What Causes Brain Fog? (7 Things You Can Do to Prevent and Stop It)

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising

Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

Advertising

This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

Advertising

If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

Advertising

Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

Advertising

To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

Read Next