It happens at the end of every ride. You start the cool down and inevitably some participants stop, take a quick stretch and walk out, all in about 30 seconds. It is like the credits rolling at the end of a movie. People are leaving the theatre before the actual end of the film. As an instructor I smile and wish them a fantastic day but inwardly cringe and hope I don’t walk into the change room 15 minutes later and find one of them faint or worse passed out.
Many participants don’t understand the importance of cooling down properly after a training session. The cool down allows your heart rate and blood pressure to come down to more normal levels, blood shunted to working muscles to recede and become more balanced. It also gives the body a chance to flush out the bi-products of exercise, like lactic acid. The cool down provides the body a smooth transition from exercise back to a steady state. The cool down also helps the mind to transition from exercise back to a calmer state and prepare for whatever is next on the agenda.
Top reasons to cool down:
- Allows heart rate and blood pressure to gradually and safely decrease to pre-exercise state
- Allow breathing rate to gradually decrease back to a normal state
- The body has time to retract the blood sent to muscles during exercise back to the heart and rest of the body
- Allows blood to keep circulating removing waste and preventing it from being trapped in the muscles which helps prevent muscle soreness and prepares the body for the next training session
- Helps prevent dizziness, faintness, nausea and irregular heartbeat
Tips to have participants stick around for the cool down
- Educate participants on the importance of the cool down with some of the points mentioned above. When participants understand the importance and how it contributes to their overall fitness they will be more likely to participate
- Play a song the group likes to hear and even sing to. When participants connect to a song they like they are more likely to stick around
- Make the cool down part of the total journey not an optional add on to the ride
- Schedule the cool down as part of the total class time not an extra 5 or so minutes past the scheduled end time of the class