The average adult needs at least 75 minutes of intense aerobic activity or twice as much moderate aerobic activity per week. Most health experts recommend stretching this out over several days for maximum benefit.
The health and wellness benefits of regular exercise are an established fact. However, the importance of proper post-workout recovery is less known. Many well-intentioned individuals are failing to reap the maximum benefits of weekly exercise due to poor post-workout recovery.
Fortunately, achieving proper post-workout recovery isn’t difficult. The following are six steps to get you going:
Replenishing the fluids lost during exercise is an essential part of your post-workout recovery. Make sure to drink plenty of water. Since most sports drinks are overloaded with sugar, we recommend sugar-free versions in order to benefit from the electrolytes they provide. You can also add sugar-free powders to your water that provide these same electrolytes. Failure to replenish the fluids lost during your workout will make it harder for your muscles to recover. It will also lead you to feel tired and uninspired for the remainder of the day.
There’s growing evidence to suggest that post-workout cold water immersion therapy does more harm than good. However, the cool-down factor remains something to consider. With this in mind, we recommend taking a brief, brisk shower in order to cool down as well as rinse off the sweat. Once cooled down to the point of shivering, consider switching to a warm water soak in the tub. This water-based approach to cold-heat muscle recovery helps reduce inflammation and ease soreness without the long-term negative effects of soaking in an ice bath.
Another common post-workout ritual being reevaluated by experts is the use of ibuprofen to treat pain and inflammation. Evidence suggests it can make muscles weaker over time. So what are we supposed to do about post-workout pain and discomfort? Many folks are turning to muscle cream for pain relief. These creams treat post-workout pain at the source and don’t contain any non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS).
Your post-workout muscles crave protein. That’s because they need protein to rebuild. So give them what they want! With that said, avoid unhealthy foods in the process. The best sources of post-workout protein include eggs, fish, chicken, and most ready-made protein bars. You could also down a spoonful of peanut butter in a pinch, though don’t overdo it due to the high sugar content. While you don’t need to eat right after your workout, most experts recommend doing so within an hour or so of finishing your daily fitness routine.
While the traditional massage is a two-person procedure, it’s possible to give yourself a massage. Various YouTube videos provide instructions on how to do so with just your hands and a few accessories. However, various products are available to make it easier. You can also cash in some brownie points with your significant other to see if they’ll give you a nice post-workout rubdown. The benefits of post-workout massage include reduced soreness, increased blood flow, and pain relief.
Last but not least, rest is a crucial component of post-workout recovery. In fact, you could also consider it a key factor in your pre-workout routine, as proper rest prepares your body for the next day’s fitness routine. By rest, all we really mean is quality sleep on a consistent basis; lounging right after a workout can actually be harmful. But as long as you get to bed at a reasonable hour every night, your body will be adequately rested by morning.
Everyone knows exercise is critical to good health and well-being. But few people appreciate the importance of the post-workout recovery process. By making the post-workout phase as important as the workout itself, you maximize the benefits of all that hard work!
Julie Steinbeck is a freelance writer from Florida. She enjoys covering topics related to business, fitness, and travel.