Smog alert: Why SPF is only part of a full sum­mer skin-care rou­tine

The Globe and Mail Metro (Ontario Edition) - - PURSUITS - – WENCY LEUNG

I know I should cool down af­ter a work­out. But most of the time, my idea of “cool­ing down” is sim­ply head­ing straight to the show­ers and turning the hot wa­ter to low.

What’s the big deal about do­ing a cool-down any­way? Ac­cord­ing to Gareth Nock, a Toronto-based team train­ing spe­cial­ist with GoodLife Fit­ness, cool-downs are im­por­tant be­cause they al­low your heart rate and blood pres­sure to grad­u­ally re­turn to their pre-ex­er­cise lev­els.

“We don’t want to, kind of, shock it back down to nor­mal too quickly, so you give it that chance to slowly come down,” Nock says.

This helps reg­u­late blood flow, he ex­plains, and prevents sore­ness from de­vel­op­ing in the mus­cles you’ve just worked. He adds there’s some re­search to sug­gest that do­ing some pos­tex­er­cise stretch­ing can help re­duce mus­cle sore­ness as well.

Nock typ­i­cally has his ath­letes do a cool-down for roughly the last five min­utes of their work­out. So, for ex­am­ple, if they’re do­ing a heavy car­dio ses­sion, he’ll en­cour­age them to end it with a brisk walk or a brisk cy­cle, and grad­u­ally slow­ing down, spend­ing about five min­utes do­ing so.

“We of­ten want the cool down to be mim­ick­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties you’ve been do­ing, but at a lower in­ten­sity or a lower pace,” he ex­plains.

He then has them do whole-body stretches, fo­cus­ing on the big mus­cle groups they’ve used the most dur­ing the work­out.

How can you tell whether your cool-down is suf­fi­cient? There’s no se­cret for­mula. Nock says the key in­di­ca­tor is how your body feels.

“Of­ten we get those highs and an adrenalin spike when we’re work­ing out and ex­er­cis­ing, and we want to try and re­duce that stress on the ner­vous sys­tem and the body,” he says, ex­plain­ing that af­ter a proper cool-down, you should feel calm and re­laxed.

Check how you’re feel­ing dur­ing the day or two af­ter your work­out as well, Nock ad­vises. If you’re feel­ing re­ally sore and stiff, you may want to re-eval­u­ate your cool-down rou­tine. Add a few more min­utes next time, he sug­gests, and take your time wind­ing down.

ISTOCK

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