In a society where beliefs about exercise are either long-held or fleeting (you know, until something better comes along), it can be difficult to know if we’re doing the right thing at the right time. And while some rules of fitness are backed up with studies and research, others aren’t as grounded in science. These are the rules you can bend.
THE TRUTH: Always warm up and cool down
THE WHOLE TRUTH: While a proper warm-up is a must, especially prior to a race, a cool-down isn’t always necessary.
NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH: Researchers at Aberystwyth University, in Wales, found that a warm-up that includes moderate to heavy efforts can improve high-intensity cycling performance by 3 percent. These efforts activate all available motor units so they’re ready to jump into action at the start, and leave you less likely to go into the red 30 seconds in. For very hard efforts, a cool-down can help prevent blood from pooling in your legs and causing dizziness, but there’s no evidence that it clears lactic acid or helps prevent soreness.