What you do following a workout can be almost as important as what you do during one. A good post workout routine helps you avoid muscle soreness, increases your energy, and helps you build muscle and lose weight.
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Here are six tips for creating a post workout regimen
You probably know that hydration is essential before and during a workout. If you’ve just completed strenuous exercise, working out in hot weather, or are sweating, rehydrating replaces the water your body has lost.
Aim for 16 ounces of water or a healthy beverage. Examples include milk, green tea, black tea or a low-sugar sports drink. The potassium, sodium and electrolytes in these drinks replenish what your body loses during exertion.
Avoid beverages with loads of calories and alcoholic drinks that can lead to dehydration.
Eat a Nutritious Snack
Your body needs nutrition after a workout. Choose foods with carbohydrates and protein. Some examples include:
- Turkey and cheese with apple slices
- Greek yogurt and berries
- Isolate protein shake
- Protein bar
- Banana and strawberry smoothie
Protein gives your body amino acids to help muscles rebuild and recover. Carbohydrates recharge you by restoring your glycogen levels.
A cool-down regimen keeps blood from pooling in your lower extremities. When this happens, you may feel lightheaded or dizzy. Cooling down also helps your heart rate gradually return to an average level. It also prevents muscle soreness by getting the lactate out of your bloodstream faster. Lactate is the organic acid from your tissue and red blood cells that creates the burn you experience as you work out.
Science has shown that cooling down can even prevent immune system depression that occurs after a workout. It’s a compelling reason not to skip this essential part of your post-workout routine.
You can cool down by doing static stretches, walking and performing light yoga. Try a combination of these activities.
Exercise Lightly on Rest Days
It is best to give your body time to recover between heavy workouts. Your body needs 72 hours between periods of exercising the same muscle group. This time allows your muscles to repair and rebuild while avoiding injury.
You don’t have to sit on the couch all day between workouts, though — nor should you. Engage in light exercise on your rest days. Try swimming, yoga or walking. These activities prevent lactic acid buildup, boost circulation, and remove toxins from your bloodstream.
Avoid Skipping Meals
If your goal is to lose weight, your body needs a steady stream of nutrition. Skipping meals can lead to muscle loss. When your body loses muscle, your metabolism slows, and you don’t burn calories as quickly.
Choose healthy, low-fat foods to nourish your body. Whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean meats are the best options. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and avoid saturated fats and processed foods. These choices provide fuel and help you recover following a workout.
Research shows that hot peppers may promote weight loss. The capsaicin found in peppers — the element that makes them spicy — may boost the body’s ability to break down fat and increase its energy burn.
Cool Off in the Shower
You might not be up for an ice bath, but a shower that’s cooler than normal helps your body heal. It can reduce muscle inflammation,making you feel better on your rest days by reducing muscle soreness.
A cool shower also helps your muscles relax, brings down your core temperature and just feels great. Ease into the cool part by starting with lukewarm water and gradually reducing the temperature. If you’re up to it, try between five and 30 seconds of cold water.
A post-workout routine enhances the benefits of your workout. You take time to exercise, so increase its impact by incorporating a post-workout regimen. Your routine can help you ease back into regular activities and become something to which you look forward after an intense and productive exercise regimen.