BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE
Following physical activity, many exercisers engage in a few minutes of low to moderate-intensity walking, jogging, cycling or swimming. This post-exercise activity is known as an active cool-down. It’s widely believed that an active cool-down aids recovery and enhances subsequent performance compared to a passive cool-down (i.e. no cool-down). The purpose of this narrative review was to explore the effects of active and passive cool-downs on physiological and psychological markers of recovery as well as sports performance.
The authors searched for studies comparing the psychophysiological effects of active and passive cool-downs performed within an hour of exercise. To improve generalizability, they included only studies of passive cool-downs consisting of standing, sitting, or lying (and excluded passive interventions like sauna, massage, ice baths, cryotherapy, etc.) The authors concentrated on the effects of cool-down on performance at least four hours after the initial bout of activity and up to several days later. These parameters reflect situations like two-a-day training sessions and multi-day athletic competitions.
Contrary to popular belief, in general an active cool-down doesn’t appear to facilitate recovery, enhance sports performance, or prevent injuries compared to a passive cool-down. Interestingly, an active cool-down may even impair same-day performance slightly. The table below summarizes the