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Cooling Down after Exercise

If you think that you cool down after you exercise to prevent muscle soreness, you are wrong. You cool down to prevent dizziness.

When you exercise, your muscles serve as a second heart pumping blood through your body. When your muscles relax, the veins near them fill up with blood. When the muscles contract, they squeeze the veins near them and pump blood toward the heart. If you are exercising vigorously and stop suddenly, your muscle stop pumping blood, then your heart has to pick up the extra work immediately. It may not be able to do that, so it could start to beat irregularly, or it may not be able to pump enough blood to your brain, causing you to feel dizzy, or even pass out. So, after exercising vigorously, slow down gradually to protect your heart and keep you from feeling dizzy.

Many people believe that cooling down helps to prevent muscle soreness by clearing lactic acid from muscles, but there is no evidence to support this theory. Muscle soreness after exercise is caused by small tears in the muscle fibers, not by accumulated lactic acid. Plan to cool down just to prevent dizziness or fainting.
More on muscle soreness

1) Belcastro J Appl Physiol. 1975; 39(6):932-936.

2) Bonen. Med Sci Sports and Ex. 1976;8(3):176-178.

3) Fox. Physiol Basis of Physical Education & Athletics . Saunders Phila. 1981 pp44-48

Checked 10/9/09

May 11th, 2013
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About the Author: Gabe Mirkin, MD

Sports medicine doctor, fitness guru and long-time radio host Gabe Mirkin, M.D., brings you news and tips for your healthful lifestyle. A practicing physician for more than 50 years and a radio talk show host for 25 years, Dr. Mirkin is a graduate of Harvard University and Baylor University College of Medicine. He is board-certified in four specialties: Sports Medicine, Allergy and Immunology, Pediatrics and Pediatric Immunology. The Dr. Mirkin Show, his call-in show on fitness and health, was syndicated in more than 120 cities. Read More
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