5 Post-Workout Habits for Your Fitness RoutineArticle posted in: Fitness
Your fitness routine doesn’t end after you leave the gym! Taking the time to properly care for yourself after exercise is a vital step that people often rush through. However, don’t overlook the value of post-workout habits for optimal recovery! To help you get the most out of your exercise routine, we’ve rounded up some of the best post-exercise habits to add more value to your workout.
Get the most out of your fitness routine with these five post-workout habits:
1. A Cool Down Stretch
You hear this all the time but you may not truly understand the value behind this practice. According to Harvard Health Publishing, “Stretching keeps the muscles flexible, strong, and healthy, and we need that flexibility to maintain a range of motion in the joints.” Stretching after a workout can help you cool down after exercise and is beneficial for joint mobility and range of motion, says Self.com. It’s important to hold each stretch for at least 15 seconds after working out for optimum benefits. To improve your flexibility and joint mobility after exercising, try a few standing and sitting stretches to get your body back to its pre-workout state.
New to exercise? Click here for our Beginner’s Guide to Stretching! >
2. Best Post-Workout Drink: Water
One of the best post workout drinks for weight loss is water! Drinking enough water every day is necessary for every body’s functionality, so ensuring that you rehydrate after working out is a no brainer. It is sometimes forgotten about or overlooked but restoring your body’s hydration level is extremely important for a number of reasons. According to Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, drinking water is essential for regulating your body temperature, keeping joints lubricated and delivering nutrients to cells. The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) recommends the following: “Jump on the scale – drink 16-24 oz of fluid for each pound you lose during your workout.”
If you’re trying to decide between drinking water or a post-workout sports drink, UTSA provides some guidance. “For most exercise, water is an excellent hydration choice. It is calorie-free, usually well-tolerated with no side-effects, is inexpensive and thirst-quenching.” They further explain that sports drinks do provide fluid, carbohydrates and electrolytes which can help with post-workout recovery. However, for most “recreational exercises,” these beverages are not necessary. “Most people can store enough carbohydrate in their muscles to fuel 60-90 minutes of continuous, non-stop exercise,” says UTSA. “If your workouts are shorter than 60-90 minutes and/or include several periods of rest throughout (like rest between ‘sets’), you likely don’t need a sports drink and water will suffice. A generally healthy diet will provide more than enough carbohydrate and electrolytes to replace what you’ve lost in your workout.”
3. Best Post-Workout Snack: Pack in the Protein
According to the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), refueling and recovery is essential after exercise. They recommend eating a combination of carbohydrates and protein to replenish and rebuild your muscles. “Exercise can cause muscle breakdown and high-quality protein, like milk, yogurt, eggs, cheese and lean meats can help rebuild and repair muscle fibers,” says ACSM. They explain that whey protein is a good post-workout choice because it is quickly digested and provides the amino acid leucine for muscle repair.
If you ever wondered how long you should wait before eating, it might help to know that consuming protein within 45 minutes after your workout can make the muscle recovery process more effective. So whether you reach for Greek yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, lean meats or whey protein in your favorite shake, make sure you are prioritizing protein intake after exercise!
4. Log your Workout
Less traditional than the others on this list, logging your workout is a mind exercise that goes a long way in forming healthy habits. According to Self.com, when you keep track of what you did in a workout, it helps you challenge yourself the next time you hit the gym. In the same vein, simply logging your workouts and physically seeing what you have accomplished is sometimes all the motivation you need to continue doing it.
5. The Post-Workout Shower: Hot or Cold?
After breaking a sweat, you will most likely want to hop right in the shower. If you’re someone who loves a hot, steamy shower, you may want to consider turning the temp down. According to Self.com, “it’s by no means a guarantee that a cool shower after a workout will make you recover quicker or stave off post-workout soreness. However, ice baths after a particularly hot workout or when the athlete is overheated do seem to be helpful. Moreover, some researchers say cold water therapy may contribute to the perception of recovery which, in turn, does actually aid recovery.”
The effects of a cool shower can be both mental and physical. Some people genuinely just feel better mentally after taking a cold shower, enjoying the therapeutic effects of it. Healthline also credits cold showers for improving circulation and decreasing muscle soreness after intense exercise.