Health experts recommend 150 minutes of moderate or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise weekly for optimal health. On a scale of 1 to 10 (with ten being most intense), vigorous exercise measures an 8 or above. Exercise at this level requires care for recovery. Here are some tips for your recovery plan.

Chug chocolate milk
Rebuild your energy stores and jump start muscle repair with chocolate milk. Chocolate milk contains carbs and protein that help you recover after a hard workout. Aim to drink yours within 30 minutes of exercise. Other post workout snacks containing carbs and protein are also beneficial. Think a slice of turkey and cheese, hummus and whole grain crackers or Greek yogurt and berries.

people-2557541_640Take time to stretch
While stretching pre-workout can lead to injuries, stretching post-workout is a must. After your workout, joints are fully lubricated, muscles are warm and blood is flowing well. You will have greater range of motion and thus, move more easily into each stretch. Stretching after a hard workout is a good strategy because it reduces muscle soreness. Hold each stretch for 10 to 30 seconds. Breathe deeply and move further into the stretch if that feels comfortable. Avoid bouncing.

Try an ice bath
Fill a tub with water and ice. Don your swim suit or light shorts and take the plunge. Avoid prolonged sitting. Ideally you will alternate brief periods of siting in the tub with time sitting on the side of the tub.

Get adequate rest
Sleep is essential for recovery and muscle development. One of the best things you can do to support your exercise and fitness plan is to observe health nutrition and sleep patterns. Aim for the recommended 5 to 9 servings of fruits and vegetables each day. You should also get at least 7 hours sleep each evening. Skip the late show and give your muscles the TLC only sleep can provide.

Use a foam roller
Many sports enthusiasts and professionals are big proponents of foam rolling. According to Runner’s World – Research on foam rollers has found they can increase range of motion and speed recovery by reducing pain and soreness. Although there isn’t large-scale direct evidence of foam rollers’ effectiveness in preventing injury, it stands to reason that decreasing the muscle tension caused by trigger points should lower injury risk and allow for more consistent training.

Attending to recovery is an important part of your exercise routine. When you protect your body and reduce the risk of injury you will realize greater fitness gains and feel better able to honor your commitment. Invest the time and effort in building the foundation for fitness – take time for recovery after your workout.