You just wrapped up your Gympass class and feel awesome. Now it’s time to retrieve your stuff from your locker and get on with the rest of your day, right? Wrong. It’s actually time to start cooling down.

Here’s the lowdown on cool-downs, the first thing you should do after you work out:

What’s a cool-down?

A cool-down is the critical period of time after your workout in which your body recovers from all that exercise you just did. The Mayo Clinic describes it as continuing “your workout session for five minutes or so, but at a slower pace and reduced intensity.” These exercises help you bring your heart rate and breathing back to normal and stretch your muscles while they’re already warm.

Why are cool-down exercises so important?

There are several reasons to dedicate time to a post-workout cool-down. First, it’s important to guide your body to its pre-workout heart rate and blood pressure levels at a gradual pace, not abruptly. Immediately ending your workout, grabbing your gym bag and heading out the door could cause you to feel sick. That’s why it’s important when you’re scheduling your workout to include your cool-down exercises in the time frame. You’ll be less tempted to skip them at the end of class.

An effective post-workout routine, especially one that includes some good stretches, also prepares you for future workouts. Although the science is still out on whether stretching really decreases soreness or reduces your risk of injury, it can help increase flexibility which has been linked to better physical performance

What are good cool-down exercises?

To properly cool down, you can simply continue your workout at a slower, less intense place. If you’re in the mood for something different, though, certain yoga poses are useful when you want to stay active and stretch your muscles. Try poses like Downward Dog, Happy Baby, or Child’s Pose. Swimming is also a good option because it’s low-impact but still keeps your heart pumping. 

If you want to try a crowd favorite, go for a walk after your workout. Whether you just ran a few miles on the treadmill, completed a tough HIIT class or kickboxed for an hour, walking allows your body to slowly recover while you catch your breath and congratulate yourself on a job well done.

From warm-up to workout to cool-down, Gympass is there for it all. If your company offers Gympass, start your 7-day free trial to explore gyms and studios near you.