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A cool-down is the portion immediately following an exercise session that allows the body to gradually transition from an exertional state to a resting or near resting state. Cool-downs should involve a gradual yet continuous decrease in exercise intensity (i.e. from a hard run to an easy jog to a brisk walk), a period of stretching, and rehydration.[1] Durations can vary for different people, but 5-10 minutes is considered adequate. A typical cool-down my consist of a slow jog or walk. Ingestion of a sports drink or some form of carbohydrate is recommended following exercise sessions that last longer than one hour.[2]

Cooling down helps remove lactic acid and allows the heart rate to return to its resting rate.[3] Contrary to popular belief, cool down does not appear to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness. Any soreness is likely a result of maximal or unaccustomed effort and soft-tissue damage caused by the activity. It is largely believed that DOMS is caused by actual damage or disruption to the body's muscle-cell membranes.[4]A cool down will also allow the person to mentally transition to a non-exercise state, and to ensure adequate venous return and reduce the likelihood of dizziness or fainting. If blood is pooled (venous pooling) in the lower extremities from a sudden cessation of exercise, the high hydrostatic forces decrease venous return and blood pressure declines.[4] Synchronously, the heart rate accelerates, which means the heart muscle needs more blood and oxygen when the oxygen supply may be compromised.[4] Cooling down may also decrease the likelihood of muscle stiffness if stretching is performed.

If a cool-down is not performed after strenuous activity, depending on an individual's fitness level and body position, there is an increased chance of dizziness, fainting, heart attack, or stroke.[4]

See Also[]


  1. unknown (n.d.). Cooling Down. Retrieved on 2008-05-23.
  2. National Acadmey of Sports Medicine (2004). Optimum Performance Training for the Health and Fitness Professional, 2nd ed., Calabasas, CA: NASM. 
  3. Brian Mac (n.d.). Warm up and Cool down. Retrieved on 2008-05-23.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Brookes, Douglas S. (2004). The Complete Book of Personal Training. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 288-289.