A healthy post-workout routine is critical if you want all that sweat and effort to really count. If you’re just going to the gym without considering what you do after, the results you are after may not come very quickly. Plus, in order to keep your body in proper condition to exercise in the first place, you really have to make sure you give it what it needs.
Certain post-workout behaviors can really do a lot of harm to your fitness progress. That’s why it is important to not only plan your workout but what you’re going to do after. Take a look at these behaviors that are detrimental to your fitness goals and eliminate them as soon as possible. You’ll not only take a giant leap forward in your progress, but you’ll also likely feel a whole lot healthier in general too.
Not cooling down and stretching
Many people skip the cool-down period after working out, which is a bad move. It’s important that you don’t go from full intensity to full rest in a matter of seconds. Your body needs a chance to slow down. Your heart rate and blood pressure require this time to get back to normal. Skipping this step could cause venous pooling, where blood accumulates in your veins.
Some great cool-down routines include simple yoga moves, walking slowly on the treadmill, or anything that you can do for about 10 minutes. Stretching should be a part of it to keep your muscles from getting too sore. If all else fails, at least make sure to stretch the part of your body you worked out the most. Ideally, you will be stretching all of the most commonly used muscles regardless, including your hamstrings, your glutes, your back, your arms and shoulders, and your chest. Skipping the cool down and stretching can lengthen your recovery time significantly, which will ultimately get in the way of your fitness goals.
Not eating soon enough
Eating immediately after you work out it essential, and if you skip it, your body will pay the price. The longest you should wait to eat after a workout session is an hour. You lose a lot of energy while exercising, and it needs to be replaced. This is even more important the more intense your workout is.
Hungry or not, make sure you eat. Even if it is just a small snack, that is better than nothing. WIthout eating, you risk becoming tired and foggy for the rest of the day. Skipping eating can also result in longer recovery time, meaning you’ll have to wait longer before you can work out again.
Loading up on the calories
While you definitely should eat something after a workout, that doesn’t mean you should feel free to eat anything you want (unless you’re a non-stop training professional athlete, of course). Eating incorrectly after a workout can seriously hinder fitness goals. Instead of loading up on empty calories, protein and carbohydrates are the best at repairing muscles and getting back those nutrients lost during the workout. It’s also not a good idea to overload on tons of fattening foods.
Protein shakes, tuna and crackers, chicken breast and vegetables, pita and hummus, and eggs with avocado are the kinds of meals that are ideal after you’re done working out. These are much better choices than a juicy burger and fries.
Skipping proper hydration
An intense workout will leave you sweating, which means you’re losing a lot of electrolytes and fluids. It’s impossible not to lose them, but unless you hydrate properly post-workout, you won’t get them back. That could leave your body in poor condition. You should be continuously drinking water throughout your workout, and even more so afterward. One glass of water is not enough. You’ll need several.
Dehydration is not only uncomfortable, it can be dangerous and damage your body. Signs of dehydration are feeling extremely parched, headache, dizziness, and nausea. A good sign that you’re hydrating properly is that your urine is close to clear. Any darker, and you need to drink more water.
You should also pay attention to replenishing electrolytes. Regular water can often contain at least some electrolytes if it isn’t labeled “distilled,” though generally not as many as dedicated sports drinks. That being said, many sports drinks are loaded with sugar, and those are not great to be constantly consuming after a workout either.
Not staying active throughout the day
After you’ve pushed your body hard during a sweat session, it might seem alright to really take it easy the rest of the day. It’s definitely okay to rest awhile after you’re done working out, but remaining sedentary the rest of the day is not a good idea if you really want to be fit and healthy. Movement, in general, should be a normal part of your lifestyle. When you have the opportunity to take the stairs, take the stairs. Instead of taking a sitting break, why not walk a bit instead. In a perfect world, around every 45 minutes you would be moving your body somehow.
It is so important to keep yourself moving regularly for several reasons. In terms of your fitness goals, it will help you reach them more quickly by keeping both your muscles and your heart in good shape. A person who has a lot of movement throughout their day, not just during the workout time frame, is also better able to control blood sugar.