Making sure you exercise the right way is crucial for meeting your fitness goals, but taking care of your body after a workout is just as important. The proper mix of movement, rest, and nutrition help your body to recover and gain the most benefit from exercise. In fact, not allowing your body to properly recuperate can be detrimental to your physical health and make it difficult to meet your fitness goals.
During exercise our muscles release lactic acid, which can cause muscle soreness. Gentle stretching for 5 to 10 minutes can help the lactic acid disperse and alleviate some of the pain and stiffness that is common after exercise. Stretching also allows the muscles to relax and lengthen, which is essential for the muscles to repair any damage and rebuild.
Taking a warm bath or shower immediately after a workout can be beneficial as well; not only does the heat soothe stressed muscles, but cleaning and rehydrating your skin is also important. During exercise we sweat and get dirty, which can cause acne and a dull, uneven skin tone if we don’t properly cleanse. Washing away the oils and grime allows us to maintain that healthy post-workout glow!
Resting after a workout is one of the best ways to make sure your body properly recovers. Not only should you get plenty of sleep, but you should also make sure to take breaks in between exercise. For example, alternate days of high intensity aerobic activity with low intensity exercise such as yoga. You may think that pushing yourself and working hard every day will create the best results, but this isn’t usually the case. Too much exercise without allowing enough rest in between can stress your muscles, cause unnecessary pain, and even cause muscle injury.
Eating right is also an important step in caring for our bodies after a workout. Exercise burns energy and we must refuel to replace what was lost. Eating a small snack that is a mix of carbohydrates and protein is a good way to boost energy and replace lost nutrition. Be sure to replace water loss, too! Vitamins and other supplements can also benefit your overall health after exercise, especially a daily multivitamin and supplements such as Omega-3 fatty acids (fish oil).
Taking care of your body after exercising doesn’t require much effort, but the rewards are priceless. It is the best way to look AND feel great after your workout – and every day!