Cool Down

With the mercury dipping into single digits in many parts of the country, it might seem counterintuitive to purposely turn down the heat on anything. But a proper cool–down after exercising can be just as important as the exercise itself. And it’s not just about reducing body heat. The right post–workout routine can help restore your heart rate, avoid muscle cramping, and support metabolic recovery. So even if you’re bundled up, cool down with these techniques:

Bring down the intensity gradually. If you’ve been jogging or walking, slow your pace to a casual walk for 5–10 minutes before stopping altogether to help transition your muscles and bring down your heart rate. An abrupt end can lead to lightheadedness or even fainting, thanks to blood pooling in the legs.

Take deep breaths. Help stabilize your breathing by inhaling and exhaling slowly. The increased oxygen will also feed your muscles and give them an opportunity to expel built–up lactic acid.

Stretch out. Often neglected, stretching can improve flexibility, enhance recovery, and prevent injury — plus it just feels great after a hard workout.

Refuel. Replenish your stores with a healthy snack that includes both carbs and protein, like a fruit smoothie, peanut butter sandwich, or baked potato with cheese. And don’t forget to rehydrate with a large glass of water.

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