min read
August 23, 2023

How to Downregulate After a Workout

Everyone knows the feeling of getting done a hard workout and immediately having to rush out of the gym to run to an appointment, work, or pick up your kid. You can’t stop sweating, your heart rate is still pumping, and you feel frazzled. 

This is because exercise, despite its numerous wonderful benefits, is actually a form of stress. It triggers our sympathetic nervous system, which is what makes our bodies go into a state of arousal, high energy, and stress. 

After exercise, if we do not let our bodies know that it’s safe to relax after that state of high stress, it will continue to stay in that highly aroused state; or, you’ll likely have an adrenaline crash a few hours later. To avoid that, try downregulation after a workout. 

Downregulation is the process of bringing our bodies from that highly aroused state (sympathetic nervous system) into the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a state of calm and relaxation. Tapping into this system of our bodies allows us to rest, recover, digest, and heal.

If you have a time when you’re rushing from a workout to another task, take merely 5 minutes to breathe. This tells your brain and body that it’s safe and that it can rest. This can be done in the car, in a waiting room, or at your desk; all you need is a moment where you can take deep inhales, with longer exhales. For example, if you inhale for 4 seconds, try to extend your exhale to 8 seconds, and repeat that for 3-5 minutes. This will help bring that heart rate down and reduce that feeling of intense stress that you might feel after a workout if you’re rushing to do a completely different activity.