NY Times explores why we need to cool down after exercise
Every exercise class or regime speaks about warm-up and cool down as a part of our routine. This ritual is now examined by the NY Times. Check it out here
Do We Have to Cool Down After Exercise?
By GRETCHEN REYNOLDS
Do you often, if guiltily, skip cooling down after exercise? A small but soothing body of new research suggests that you aren’t missing out on much.
Most of us were taught in elementary school gym classes that the body requires a formal period of cooling down after a workout or competition. Instructors told us that by slowing to a jog or otherwise lessening the intensity of the workout, followed by stretching or otherwise transitioning out of physical activity, we would prevent muscle soreness, improve limberness and speed physiological recovery. All of this would allow us to perform better physically the next day than if we hadn’t cooled down.
But under scientific scrutiny, none of those beliefs stand up well.
In a representative study published last year in The Journal of Human Kinetics, a group of 36 active adults undertook a strenuous, one-time program of forward lunges while holding barbells, an exercise almost guaranteed to make untrained people extremely sore the next day. Some of the volunteers warmed up beforehand by pedaling a stationary bicycle at a very gentle pace for 20 minutes. Others didn’t warm up but cooled down after the exercise with the same 20 minutes of easy cycling. The rest just lunged, neither warming up nor cooling down.
The next day, all of the volunteers submitted to a pain threshold test, in which their muscles were prodded until they reported discomfort. The volunteers who’d warmed up before exercising had the highest pain threshold, meaning their muscles were relatively pain-free.