The Dreaded Cool Down
You’ve spent thirty minutes on the tread mill; thirty minutes of your life going absolutely NO WHERE! And now, now the machine invites you to spend an additional five minutes to cool down.
Okay, hands raised. How many of you finish your cardio workout, jump off whatever de- vice you are using, and proceed to the next and hopefully more exciting venue … with- out going through a cool down cycle?
Leading exercise physiologist and cardiologists are at odds over the question. Most admit, there is no science behind the cool down advice. And yet, the cool-down-notion has been enshrined in text books, fitness magazines and automatically programed into our cardio equipment.
In the October 13, 2009 issue of the New York Times, American Science Journalist Gina Kolata writes:
“Exercise researchers say there is only one agreed-on fact about the possible risk of suddenly stopping intense exercise. When you exercise hard, the blood vessels in your legs are expanded to send more blood to your legs and feet. And your heart is pumping fast. If you suddenly stop, your heart slows down, your blood is pooled in your legs and feet, and you can feel dizzy, even pass out.”
She goes on to quote Dr. Paul Thompson, a cardiologist and marathon runner who is an exercise researcher at Hartford Hospital in Connecticut:
“The best athletes are most vulnerable. If you are well trained, your heart rate is slow already, and it slows down even faster with exercise. Also, there are bigger veins with a large capacity to pool blood in your legs.”
Dr. Carl Foster, an exercise physiologist at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse stated:
“That effect can also be deleterious for someone with heart disease because blood ves- sels leading to the heart are already narrowed, making it hard for blood to get in.”
However, none of these doctors believe a cool down is necessary.
On the other hand, in a September 1, 2014 article the American Heart Association stat- ed:
“Cooling down after a workout is as important as warming up. After physical activity, your heart is still beating faster than normal, your body temperature is higher and your blood vessels are dilated. This means if you stop too fast, you could pass out or feel sick. A cool-down after physical activity allows a gradual decrease at the end of the episode.”
The Mayo Clinic, in their August 10, 2016 article provides us with a reasonable com- promise”
“Cooling down after your workout allows for a gradual recovery of pre-exercise heart rate and blood pressure. Cooling down may be most important for competitive en- durance athletes, such as marathoners, because it helps regulate blood flow. Cooling down doesn’t appear to help reduce muscle stiffness and soreness after exercise, but more research is needed.
Although there’s controversy about whether warming up and cooling down can prevent injuries, proper warm-ups and cool-downs pose little risk. Plus, they seem to give your heart and blood vessels a chance to ease into — and out of — an exercise session. So if you have the time, consider including a warm-up and cool-down in your workout rou- tine.”
While there is no scientific evidence supporting the absolute NEED to cool down, there is universal agreement upon the potential symptoms from not.
Call me old fashion – I’m going to continue my brief investment of time to slow my heart and breathing rates down. Scientific evidence or not, passing out or pooling blood in my veins are options I’ll attempt to avoid.
As Paul Harvey would say,
“ And now you know the rest of the story – good-day!”
Loads of luv’n, Laurie