Congratulations on your workout regimen. You’re looking good and feeling great. What you do after a workout can be just as important as the workout itself. There are three things you can do to recover from exercise that leverages the increased metabolic rate while cooling down the body. Recovering from exercise includes both a nutritional component and a movement component. Here are some quick tips to capture increased benefits from your workout.
Cool It Down and Stretch It Out
If you engaged in a heart-pumping activity you want to bring your heart rate down slowly. You don’t want to just stop, especially if you were sprinting. This is called active recovery. By continuing to move the heart rate gradually comes down so it’s less of a shock. When we exercise the heart has to work harder to send oxygenated blood throughout the body. That means the volume of blood flowing through the heart increases exponentially. When you just stop or lay down the same volume of blood is going to the heart but the body doesn’t have a use for it. Walking it off or a light jog allows the heart rate to come down and for the body to realize there is no longer a need for all that blood.
During intense exercise oxygen levels in the blood are lower causing more lactic acid to be produced. This is that burning sensation in the muscles during activity. Active recovery allows the lactic acid to begin to dissipate as more oxygen is made available to muscles. Despite popular belief, a build up of lactic acid isn’t responsible for muscle soreness days after a strenuous workout. The soreness is from minor muscle tears and inflammation. As the muscle heals it becomes stronger.
This is where stretching can have benefits. Stretching, both active and static, elongates the muscles and creates elasticity. Think of a rubber band. When a rubber band is soft and supple it can stretch pretty far without snapping. As a rubber band ages and dries out it loses that ability. It will either not stretch or snaps fairly easily under little tension. Something similar happens to our muscles. To keep them pliable we must stretch. The best time to stretch is after a workout because they are warmed up and more likely to stretch further. When you’re not working out the benefits of stretching are apparent in our balance and overall feelings of aches and pains. Stretching also reduces stress and anxiety. Further, some simple stretches today helps prevent injuries tomorrow by keeping muscles and joints flexible.
Feed Your Metabolism and Your Body
After exercise our bodies are the most receptive to nutrients and our metabolism is high. The body wants to replenish what it lost during the workout, which is why it craves highly nutritious foods following exercise. This is the best time for a healthy breakfast full of vitamins, minerals and protein. The body will process it quickly and efficiently while continuing to burn calories. And depending on the type of exercise you did, your body will continue to burn calories at a higher rate throughout the day. This is called the afterburn effect. The best foods to have after a workout are high in protein to help with muscle-building, opt for lean protein such as chicken. Chocolate milk has also been shown to have post-workout benefits. Don’t forget the vegetables, especially those high in antioxidants. Avoid the fruit at this point given its high sugar content.
The best time for your body to recover is during sleep. There are various bodily repair functions that can’t happen until we’re asleep. When we’re fatigued the body begins to ration its energy focusing mainly on brain functions, then other life-sustaining activities such as breathing, beating the heart, blinking, etc. Then when we finally get some rest the body focuses on the repairs that are required to keep us alive. Building muscle or replenishing skin cells is not a life-saving priority. But if you get plenty of rest, at least eight hours a night, the body will have the energy it needs to do everything.
Recovering from a workout is very simple and has as many benefits as the workout itself. Do you have an exercise recovery regimen that you swear by? Tell us by commenting below. If you found this post helpful please share within your communities. Browse our site for other helpful health and wellness tips.
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