Getting a workout in feels great, keep the good going. Skip these bad after workout habits so you can enjoy the exercise glow long after you’ve washed off the sweat. Here are four big post exercise don’ts.
The optimal recovery window is within 30 minutes after exercise. During these crucial minutes your body is primed to receive nutrients that help speed recovery, boost energy and build muscle. Your post workout snack should combine protein and carbs. Good choices include chocolate milk, peanut butter with crackers or a bagel or a slice of turkey with cheese.
You had a really great workout so it’s okay to go ahead and scarf that chocolate brownie or burger and fries, right? Wrong! Exercise is not an excuse to take in too many calories or fat. Many people run into trouble by overestimating how hard they worked out or how many calories they burned. The problem becomes even bigger when the same people underestimate how many calories they ate. If you have been working out faithfully but your doctor still worries about your cholesterol or the scale hasn’t budged – it may just be that you are overdoing your after workout reward. Don’t sabotage your good work. Eat sensibly from a variety of food groups and enjoy the foods you love in moderation.
Hard working muscles need a little TLC. Show them a little love with a cool down period followed by some gentle stretching. As you cool down you will notice your heart rate slowing. Stretch warm muscles without bouncing. Move into the stretch and hold when you begin to feel resistance. You don’t want to overdo it. Now breathe deeply and push just a bit more again, just until you meet resistance. Take this time to celebrate your body. Look what it has been able to do. Finally, as you continue breathing, center yourself in the present moment feeling of accomplishment. This is your time, deadlines and other worries can wait a bit.
You will need to replace fluids lost during exercise. A way to gauge is the before and after exercise weigh in. For example, if you weigh 175 pounds before exercise and 173 after you will need to drink about six cups of water to replace the fluid you lost. Dehydration is the culprit behind all sorts of annoyances like fatigue, false hunger and even migraines. Being properly hydrated is key for helping your body run its efficient best.
Skip the celebration
Every day you head to the gym, the track or commit to any exercise is a day for celebration. Log your accomplishment in your journal, post your stats on Facebook or just give yourself a pat on the back. You don’t have to wait until you’re off the cholesterol medication or until you can wear your favorite jeans. Remember, a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and you get points for every one of those steps. Good for you!