Boring and useless. That’s how a lot of fitness junkies feel about cooldowns. Honestly, it can also feel like an afterthought. But there are some real benefits to cooling down!
Research shows that an active recovery, aka the cooldown, helps your heart and lungs recover faster after exercising.
It also removes one of the by-products of exercise that indicate fatigue in your body, and it restores your blood pH to resting levels. Exercise scientists don’t have a formal definition for active recovery, so the good news is, you can get creative and make it up as you go along.
Here are some ideas for cooling down at home
Vacuum and mop
Research shows that an active cooldown helps remove lactate from your blood, and to a lesser extent, from your muscles. Lactate is associated with fatigue, and the concentration of blood and muscle tissue lactate is used as a marker of recovery from working out.
So why not remove the lactate from your blood and knock some chores off of the to-do list?
Chores including vacuuming and mopping, which engage both the arms and legs, provide light exercise. This will provide your body with a transition from high-intensity exercise to a resting state. It will also leave your home a little cleaner.
Mow the lawn
The concept is the same as doing indoor chores, except you also get the benefit of being outside. In fact, any kind of yard work, whether it’s pulling weeds or planting vegetables or mowing the grass, counts as moderate exercise. If you use these chores as a cool-down, the less strenuous, aerobic aspects of watering or raking will help your body move from your workout to your resting state.
Walk the dog
OK, this one isn’t exactly at home, but close enough, and it might be the most fun! You can spend time with your furry friend, take care of his exercise needs and bring your body closer to its resting state. Just being outside is good for you. Bring a water bottle to rehydrate yourself, do some light walking and breathe deeply. Your heart and lungs will recover faster than if you just sat on the couch.
Download a yoga app
If you’re new to yoga, downloading a yoga app and trying it in the privacy of your own home can help you decide if you’re interested in taking a class. Look for the words “gentle” or “restorative” — you want an asana that will ease you into a relaxed state. If you see words like “power” or “Ashtanga vinyasa,” that’s not a cool-down! Search yoga in the app store and a number of free options with good reviews will pop up. Restorative yoga has a bonus benefit too — it’s been shown to burn fat.
The next time you finish a workout, don’t skip the cooldown! The benefits of cooling down aren’t as dramatic as a good weight circuit or a hard, fast run. But those subtle benefits help your body return to a resting state, burn a few more calories and help both body and mind.
Written by Sarah Miller
Sarah Miller is a writer, self-claimed nutritionist, and CrossFit junkie. She spends most of her time meal prepping and actively trying to beat personal records in the gym, but always enjoys a meditative walk through a nearby woodland area or near a lake.