5 Steps to Cool Down Quickly After a Hot Workout

Because sweating at your desk for the rest of the day just won’t do.

To cool down your body quickly after a midday workout, it's best to stretch for 10 minutes before hopping in the shower. Photograph via Shutterstock.

Fitting in a lunchtime workout is a nice way to break up a long day of sitting, but no one likes walking back into the office with a beet-red face and sweat stains. We’re here to help. Next time you’ve got an intense workout planned over lunch, follow these five simple steps to cool down quickly after.

1) Pre-cool before the workout
Cooling down before a run or workout not only slows the rate of your body temperature increasing during the workout, but also improves your performance, according to research published in Sports Medicine. To pre-cool, begin hydrating at least two hours before your workout with cold drinks, sit in an air-conditioned room, or have some cooling packs on hand.

2) Stretch it out post-workout
You probably want to hop in the shower immediately after that speedy three-miler, but be sure to cool down, first. Walk and stretch for at least ten minutes until your heart rate slows down. This will prevent you from getting the gross post-shower sweats and, more important, from passing out from that heat.

3) Take a hot-and-cold shower
Once you’ve cooled down, hit the showers. Just make sure it’s not cold the entire time. A Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport study found that athletes who alternated soaking in hot and cold water after exercising experienced a significant reduction in their heart rate and blood lactate levels.

4) Smooth on skin-cooling lotion
After a shower, hydrate your skin with a lotion that contains cooling properties like menthol, such as Aveeno’s new skin relief healing ointment or American Crew’s post-shave cooling lotion for men. These lotions work just as aloe vera does with sunburn, but without the sticky feeling.

5) Drink peppermint tea—hot or cold
The body works in funny ways. Research shows that in dry, hot climates, having a hot drink actually helps us cool off, since the heat from the drink triggers a sweating response. The caveat: The sweat has to evaporate for the cooling effect to actually occur, so this method won’t work in humid climates (sorry, DC). Instead, stick to iced tea with peppermint, which contains the cooling compound menthol.