You’re gasping for air, dripping with sweat and all you really want to do is collapse in a heap on the floor. Do you really need to haul your ass through a cool down?

Wrapping up your workout with a cool down is undeniably beneficial. Dedicating time to cooling your body down after exercise will enhance your body’s recovery, and help keep you on track with regular exercise.

Effectively cooling down is as easy as gradually reducing activity levels until the heart rate and breathing return to normal. It’s the slow, gradual reduction in activity levels that’s key. By slowly reducing activity you give your body the chance to benefit from an oxidative flush, where your muscles are flushed with oxygenated blood and as a result they are well-primed for recovery.

While many LES MILLS™ workouts wrap up with a structured cooldown track, some don’t. Short, sharp high-intensity interval training programs such as LES MILLS GRIT™ and LES MILLS SPRINT™ are designed to keep your heart rate at above 85% of maximum heart rate for two thirds of the 30-minute workout, and the only way to achieve this intensity is to omit the cool down track. This doesn’t mean cooling down isn’t going to be beneficial.

After any exercise we recommend spending 5 to 10 minutes cooling down. It can be as simple as doing a slow jog, bouncing on the spot or simply walking around can help your breathing slowly return to normal. Incorporating stretching into this cooldown is ideal, as elongating muscles after they have been exerted helps release tension and assist recovery.

If you want to benefit from the increased flexibility that comes from stretching you need to make your stretches last. The trick is to hold each stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat it three times on each side. Remember to increase tension gradually to create a gentle stretching sensation in the target muscle group. Science shows that it’s best to leave this prolonged stretching to the end of your workout. If you kick off your training by stretching during the warmup it can be detrimental to your muscle power output during exercise.

Finally, if you really want your body to benefit from enhanced recovery and improved flexibility then a restorative workout such as BODYBALANCE™ is the way to go. A weekly BODYBALANCE session will help increase your flexibility and core strength, not to mention leave you feeling calm and centered, long and strong.

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