Physical health depends on lifestyle factors. Your choices before you step into the gym and right after a workout significantly impact your fitness performance, muscle recovery and injury risk.

1. Sleep 

Experts agree that getting enough good quality sleep is one of the best recovery tools at your disposal. When you’re sleep-deprived, you perceive more pain, your immune system is weaker and you won’t perform as well during your next workout because your reaction times will be slower. This is why elite athletes are particular about getting their shut-eye. At least seven hours of sleep should do the trick, but you might be one of the lucky ones who need less slumber. Maintain good sleep hygiene by avoiding devices that emit blue light about an hour before you plan on going to bed. 

2. Nutrition

Drivers don’t put gas riddled with impurities in their car’s tank because it could damage the vehicle. While there are no short-term risks to eating tasty junk food, keep in mind that eating the right foods promotes recovery. For example, beef, chicken and fish all contain easy-to-digest protein rich in leucine, which plays a huge role in muscle repair. Eating five meals containing healthy protein within 24 hours after a vigorous workout can support this process. In addition, a creatine monohydrate supplement may lessen post-workout pain without compromising your gains, and CBD shows similar promise.

3. Stress Levels

Stress doesn’t just affect post-workout muscle recovery — it can also make you feel horrible and tired during a workout. And stress isn’t limited to your emotional state; your surroundings can cause it, too. Suppose you stayed in a polluted environment over the weekend or successfully presented to a work client. Your body slows down muscle recovery and uses resources to manage the stressors instead.

4. Alcohol Intake

Let’s look at leucine-rich protein once more. It activates a protein that is critical for muscle repair. Alcohol hinders this function, so if you work out often, you may want to skip drinking. Booze also causes dehydration.

5. Water Consumption

H2O is the best way to prevent dehydration that can impede muscle repair. Drink at least 24 ounces of fluid after a workout, especially on a hot or humid day. Try tart cherry juice for some variety. While more research is needed, there’s evidence this sweet and sour beverage can reduce inflammation.

6. Progression

Overreaching or overtraining, where you do too much exercise too soon, is one of the most common injury causes. Because of enthusiasm or an upcoming race, you may feel the need to train harder. This can cause more muscle damage and negatively impact your performance. Prioritize a steady and regular workout routine and make sure you set aside some days off for rest.