Taking care of yourself and getting enough exercise is more important than ever in today’s hectic mosaic of work, parenting, paying bills, and just managing everyday life. But what you choose to do immediately following a workout is almost as important as the exercise itself. Recent data shows that some 58 million people go to a gym or health club annually, but these efforts are squandered when proper exercise recovery goes unpracticed.
Of course, taking the time post-workout to let your body recover properly can be challenging. This is especially true with work, parenting, and other responsibilities getting in the way. But the good news is that it doesn’t need to take a lot of time, and you can quickly build it into your routine. Here are some effective post-workout recovery tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your exercise:
Ever wake up the day after a workout feeling stiff or even in pain? Sometimes the stiffness sets in just hours after exercise. Fortunately, that can largely be prevented with stretching after a hard workout. You should incorporate a full-body stretch routine into the time immediately following your workout, when your muscles are still warm and elastic. Doing so will help increase your flexibility and relieve tension to prevent soreness and seizing up.
One of the most important things you can do after any workout is drink water. Gatorade and other drinks with electrolytes help, but nothing helps repair the muscle and tissue damaged during a workout better than good old H2O. Furthermore, water replaces the fluid lost from your body when you sweat.
While you should be sipping water during workouts (especially intense ones), it’s still important to rehydrate afterward. After all, water literally supports every metabolic function in your body, and staying hydrated will help ensure maximum performance.
Replace Lost Nutrients
Your body spends a lot of energy working out, and it’s important to replace lost nutrients. Of course, you’ll want to make sure you’re eating healthily in order to not cancel out the hard work you just did. Many athletes eat small, healthy snacks after a workout like nuts, fruit, vegetables, and protein shakes. Take care to not overindulge or eat fatty, processed foods, especially if you are working out as part of a weight loss or weight management plan.
Take Steps to Prevent Swelling and Damage
Feeling any sore or tender spots? Try doing more gentle stretches or using a foam roller to help ease the pain and prevent it from getting worse. Taking a warm bath with Epsom salts has also been shown to help. In more recent times, CBD oils and supplements have also risen as a method of easing post-workout pain in a holistic way. In fact, a 2017 survey showed that 29% of CBD users agreed that their favorite aspect of the products was the medical/physical relief they experienced as a result.
Get Plenty of Sleep
You’ve likely heard this before, but sleep is incredibly important. In addition to your regular post-workout recovery, getting enough hours of sleep is how you can ensure your body recovers properly and stays strong for future exercise. How much sleep does your body actually need? It varies from person to person, but generally speaking, people working out regularly need 7 to 8 hours every night.
This is especially true if your workout includes weight training. Studies show that 60% of people who regularly weight train get an average of 7 hours or more of sleep per night. This includes professional weight lifters and athletic trainers.
Taking care of yourself post-workout is vital to ensure you do not cause lasting damage to your body as well as keep yourself in peak performance mode. Help yourself get in the habit of post-workout recovery by considering it all part of your workout routine. Eventually, it will become a habit.