Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Another unnecessary fitness ritual

The cool-down is enshrined in training lore. It’s in physiology textbooks, personal trainers often insist on it, fitness magazines tell you that you must do it — and some exercise equipment at gyms automatically include it. ...

The problem, says Hirofumi Tanaka, an exercise physiologist at the University of Texas, Austin, is that there is pretty much no science behind the cool-down advice.

The idea of the cool-down seems to have originated with a popular theory — now known to be wrong — that muscles become sore after exercise because they accumulate lactic acid. ... The lactic acid theory led to the notion that by slowly reducing the intensity of your workout you can give lactic acid a chance to dissipate. ...

As far as muscle soreness goes, cooling down doesn’t do anything to alleviate it, Dr. Tanaka said. And there is no physiological reason why it should.
--Gina Kolata, NYT, on those five minutes at the end of a workout that I always skip

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