Rest and cooling yourself down could easily rank as the most unlikely, forgotten tool in your health kit.
When I first started exercising, about nine years ago, my trainer would "instruct" me to run on the treadmill at a speed of 17 miles per hour.
He was being downright foolish. Let's find out why.
For an untrained person, clearly, you have no capacity to sustain any effort to run at this pace. Just for context, the fastest runners in the world run at this speed of 3 minutes and 43 seconds per mile.
So, my trainer, looking at an unhealthy, unfit me, believed that I could match world standards because I showed up at his gym?
Worse, he would make me run this way at the end of my workout. My workout, which preceded my run, would be intensive, at least for my untrained body.
Even a few squats and lunges were intensive at this point.An intensive workout followed by an even more intensive cardio exercise.
Naturally, I would meander home, which fortunately was a few hundred metres away, hating myself and the exercises.
So what is wrong with this picture? Isn't this what you imagine all workouts to be? No pain, no gain? Actually, the exact opposite is the truth.
When you exercise, your body undergoes tremendous stress. It will produce hormones and chemicals to deal with the stress. Epinephrine is one of them.
If you force yourself to exercise at levels beyond your capacity, you will force yourself to produce more and more hormones. It is like trying to lift a burning car all by yourself for forty-five minutes.
Except since you are trying every day, you will quickly lose consistency. Your body may even make you sick enough to stop you from going to the gym. Injuries abound!
In an ideal world, exercise at just about your current capacity. Do so consistently. Each time you do, follow it up with a cooling exercise.
A shavasana is an excellent example. Spend ten to fifteen minutes cooling down, allowing your mind and body to relax. For the longest time, I would think of that as being sissy, not "bro" enough.
Now, each time I come back from my 20–25-kilometer bike ride, I simply lie down and let my body be.