Total Shape is a reader-supported site. Purchases made through links may earn a commission. Learn more.

7 Cool Down Exercises and Stretches After Working Out

Isaac Robertson
Published by Isaac Robertson | Co-Founder & Chief Editor
Last updated: August 18, 2023

As a fitness instructor, I can never stress the importance of cooling down after a workout enough.

Skipping a proper cool-down makes your muscles less prepared for the next session and more susceptible to injury. Sadly, most people see it as an optional or unnecessary part of the fitness routine.

To help you give your body the attention it deserves, I'm sharing effective, quick, cool-down exercises that I constantly use with my clients.

Let's dive in.

Quick Summary

  • Cool-down exercises usually last 10 minutes and include stretching and light cardio workouts.
  • You should do your cooling-down routine in the following order: light cardio, seated stretching, and then standing stretches.
  • This is essential for returning the body’s vital parameters to normal after a workout and reducing the risk of injuries, dizziness, or fainting.

Seven Most Effective Ways to Cool Down Your Body

Women jogging with friends

When you exercise, your heart rate increases, and blood vessels dilate, causing blood to pool in your limbs [1]. S

o when you abruptly stop the exercise, it affects the body as a bit of a shock.

To avoid potential inconveniences, dedicate at least 10 minutes of your workout to cooling-down exercises.

Let’s explore the most effective ones.

Exercise 1: Walking

Walk at a comfortable pace, swinging your arms naturally, and take deep breaths to help this light cardio bring your body state back to normal.

Exercise 2: Child’s Pose

  1. Start on your hands and your knees.
  2. Straighten your arms and sink back and rest your buttocks on your heels.
  3. Let your chest fall into your thighs, and your forehead rest on the floor.

Exercise 3: Seated Forward Bend

Performing seated forward bend stretch
  1. Sitting on the floor with your legs extended, inhale and raise your arms overhead.
  2. On the exhale, hinge forward from your hips, extending your hands toward your feet and resting your forehead on your shins.
  3. Hold for several breaths, then release the stretch and sit up slowly.

Exercise 4: Seated Hamstring Stretch

  1. Sit on the ground with your left leg straight and your right knee bent.
  2. Reach forward with your right arm and grab your left ankle, feeling the stretch in your left side and hamstring.
  3. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch sides.

Related: Top 9 Tensor Fasciae Latae Stretches

Exercise 5: Standing Quad Stretch

  1. From the standing position with your feet hip-width apart, lift your left foot towards your glute with your left hand.
  2. Keep your knees together and hold for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides.

Exercise 6: Standing Calf Stretch

Doing standing calf stretch
  1. Stand with your feet hip-width apart and take a step back with your left leg.
  2. Keep your right heel on the ground and bend your left knee, feeling the stretch in your right leg.
  3. Hold for 20-30 seconds and switch sides.

Exercise 7: Shoulder Stretch (Shoulder Blades Stretch)

  1. Stand with your legs straight, feet hip-width apart, and reach your right arm across your chest, holding it with your left hand.
  2. Pull your right arm closer to your body, feeling the stretch in your right shoulder and upper body.
  3. Hold this position for 20-30 seconds, then switch sides by reaching your left arm across your chest and pulling the left elbow with your right hand.

You can mix and match depending on the muscles you worked that day or do the entire routine.

Why Is This Crucial?

Doing a stretch on her legs

It is crucial to cool down and stretch after a workout because it helps your body return to a resting state and prevent injury.

In addition to reducing the risk of injury, a cool-down routine after a workout helps bring down your body temperature, decrease your heart rate, and gradually return your body to a resting state.

Cooling down provides a gradual decrease in blood flow and can prevent dizziness or fainting [2].

Moreover, stretching during the cool-down phase helps elongate muscles and prevent stiffness, which can help you move more efficiently during your next workout.

They can also help improve your mental well-being by promoting relaxation and reducing stress levels [3].

Jess Hiestand, a personal trainer at Rumble, adds that cool-down activities provide a mental closing out, allowing for reflection, gratitude, and relaxation.

Taking a mental note of the benefits and successes of hard work can then help maintain consistency and motivation.

Overall, cool-down stretches are essential components of any workout routine, regardless of fitness level or type of exercise.

By taking a few minutes to cool down and stretch, you can prevent injury, improve your physical performance, enhance your mental well-being, and gradually bring your body back to balance.

So, the next time you finish a workout, take the time to cool down and stretch to maximize the benefits of your exercise routine.

FAQs

How Do You Cool Down After Stretching?

After stretching, you can cool down by performing light cardio exercises, such as walking or cycling, for five to ten minutes. Additionally, a foam roller can help ease any muscle tension or soreness.

How Can I Cool Down Naturally?

To cool down naturally, try taking a cold shower, using a cold compress, or applying aloe vera gel to your skin. Drinking cold water, wearing loose, breathable clothing, and avoiding direct sunlight can also help lower your body temperature.

Additionally, eating spicy food can trigger sweating and cool you down.

Make This Part of Your Daily Routine

Whether you are a seasoned athlete or a beginner, taking the time to cool down properly and stretch can significantly enhance the benefits of your workout and support your overall health and wellness.

Besides stretching and cooling down, you need to ensure that your muscles have the nutrients they need to recover fully, and something like a high-quality protein powder for muscle gain can help with that.

After testing the most popular products on the market extensively, we put together a list of the most effective ones, so make sure to check them out.


References:

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6172294/
  2. https://www.acefitness.org/resources/everyone/blog/3683/five-reasons-you-shouldn-t-skip-your-cool-down-after-exercise/
  3. https://www.heart.org/en/healthy-living/fitness/fitness-basics/warm-up-cool-down
Was this article helpful?
YesNo

About The Author

You May Also Like

Write a Reply or Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *