Regular exercise is an essential part of a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re a pro at pilates, a gym-going guru, or a radiant runner, exercise keeps you fit, lifts your spirits, and combats all manner of nasty health conditions.
But you knew all that already!
What too many of us overlook is the importance of allowing your body to recover afterward. The “ying” to exercise’s “yang”, a period of recovery following strenuous activity is just as vital to your overall health and wellbeing. Would you like to learn why that’s the case and discover some proven strategies for helping your body recover post-workout You’re in the right place.
Read on for a comprehensive look at how to recover fast and effectively.
The Importance of Recovery after Physical Activity
Making recovery a priority can be easier said than done when you’re passionate about exercise. And it gets even harder when you throw a competitive streak into the mix!
Many exercise enthusiasts manage to convince themselves it isn’t necessary, or feel guilty about taking time off to rest.
If any of this sounds familiar, then it may help you to know that recovery:
- Results in improved all-around performance
- Reduces the risk of injury, pain, and muscle soreness
- Replenishes your stores of energy
- Repairs damaged muscle tissue
- Reduces the risk of overtraining
Ultimately, recovery allows your mind and body to heal after you exert yourself!
Think of it like kicking off your shoes, putting your feet up, and watching Netflix after a long day at work. Without that time to unwind, you’re less able to handle whatever challenges tomorrow brings.
In exercise terms, recovery gives you the best chance of performing at your best whenever you’re next in the gym, on the running track, or in the pool.
Effective Ways to Help Your Body Relax and Recover
Now we know why it’s so crucial, let’s take a look at a selection of proven methods for helping your mind and body recover post-workout.
1. Hot Tub Hydrotherapy
Anybody who’s ever spent time in a hot tub knows first-hand how relaxing it is.
You feel those stress levels subside as soon as you step in, sit back, and immerse your weary body in the warm water!
Yet the justification for using a hot tub to facilitate recovery goes well beyond the anecdotal. Hot tub hydrotherapy is now scientifically proven to reduce muscle pain, alleviate discomfort in your joints, and prevent muscle tissue damage.
The real key to success comes down to timing though.
For best results, resist getting into the hot tub until your heart rate’s back under control and your muscles have cooled down after a workout.
If you wish to take it one step further, you could try applying cold packs to your afflicted muscles for up to 15 minutes beforehand too! This constricts the blood flow to them, helping to reduce inflammation to an even greater extent before the heat from the hot tub water works its magic.
2. Eating the Right Foods
Offering advice around nutrition is rarely straightforward when it comes to exercise. Why?
Because the food (and how much of it) you need to consume for optimal performance depends on myriad factors! Everything from your training goals and dietary requirements to your age and body type comes into play. One thing’s for sure, though:
How you fuel your body before, during, and after a workout has an almighty impact on recovery!
Start by eating a balanced diet overall.
Avoiding an excess of anything should ensure you always have what you need in your system to recover properly. You’re onto a winner if your general diet includes plenty of fresh fruit and veg, complex carbs, good fats, and sources of lean, high-quality protein.
That last one’s super important! Of all the nutrients that contribute to recovery, protein’s arguably the most influential.
It gives your body exactly what it requires to heal the tiny tears in your muscle fibers that appear as a result of exercise. So, whether you drink a protein shake or chow down a tuna salad after a workout, your body will thank you for it.
3. Consuming Electrolytes
No discussion of diet and recovery’s complete without mentioning minerals!
Consider electrolytes, such as sodium, potassium, and magnesium. They’re special electricity-conducting chemicals that exist in our bodies and are fundamental to our very survival!
Unfortunately, though, you lose key electrolytes when you sweat.
Failing to replace them can make you feel lethargic, tired, and nauseous. At a certain point, you may become confused and suffer a wealth of other nasty symptoms thereafter.
That’s why it’s sensible to consume electrolytes during and after long exercise sessions!
Grabbing an electrolyte-infused drink is one easy way to do it, but you can also get them from food.
Banana and plain yogurt, for example, are two valuable sources of potassium. Tomato juice and dill pickles are ideal for sodium. And you’ll find plenty of magnesium in spinach and pumpkin seeds!
4. Drinking Enough Fluid
Let’s face it, there’s never a good time to be dehydrated when you’re an exercise buff (or anyone else, for that matter!).
You’re thirsty, lightheaded, and fatigued- all factors that hinder performance and make you feel lousy all-around.
Dehydration’s a particular issue in the realm of recovery though. Here’s why:
Remember how protein helps the torn fibers in your weary muscles heal after a workout? Well, those very same muscles have to be hydrated for that protein synthesis to take place.
In simple terms, dehydration stops your muscles from recovering and rebuilding.
The good news is you can avoid this simply by drinking enough fluid! The American Council on Exercise recommends between:
- 17 and 20oz around 2 to 3 hours before physical activity
- 8oz around 20 minutes before physical activity
- 7 and 10oz every 10 to 20 minutes during physical activity
- 8oz around 30 minutes after physical activity
But, remember: not all fluid’s created equal! Stick to water or specialized sports drinks to get all the benefits of staying hydrated without the sky-high sugar content.
5. Getting Enough High-Quality Sleep
The real secret to success with post-workout recovery comes down to rest. You need time off after strenuous exercise to let your muscles recover!
It may come as no surprise, then, that the amount and quality of sleep you get is super important.
Being in dreamland works wonders for a tired body. In deep sleep (sometimes called Non-REM sleep), for example, the blood supply to your muscles increases and you receive an influx of growth hormone from your pituitary gland.
Both factors play a role in muscle healing, repair, and improved exercise capacity.
To fully understand the benefits of sleep on recovery, though, it helps to look at the effects of sleep deprivation. These include (but are by no means limited to):
- Mood swings
- Higher stress levels
- Difficulty focusing and thinking clearly
- Increased drowsiness
- Weakened immune system
- Higher risk of heart disease
- Poor coordination
Clearly, missing out on sleep is something everyone should work hard to avoid- especially when you’re working out a lot!
6. Warming Up Before and Cooling Down After Exercise
Not only is an effective warmup great for reducing muscle soreness after a workout, but it’ll reduce your risk of injury too.
That’s why we recommend doing some dynamic stretching before getting started.
These active movements stretch out the muscles you’re about to use, activating and stimulating blood flow to them. Walking lunges, straight leg kicks, and heel-to-rear jogging are a few dynamic stretches worth trying.
Don’t stop there though! When your workout’s over, take the time to cool down properly as well.
Spending a few minutes jogging, walking, or doing some static stretching will let your blood pressure, heart rate, and body temperature return to their normal levels. You’ll release any lactic acid that’d built up too, which will reduce the chance of feeling stiff the next day.
Quick tip: avoid static stretching before exercise! Contrary to what your high-school gym teacher may have said, it can actually hinder athletic performance rather than help it.
7. Consulting Your Doctor
Last but not least, don’t forget to consult your doctor before making any significant changes to your diet, exercise regime, or general lifestyle!
Their professional support is the best way to ensure you do everything in a safe and proper manner.
They’ll walk you through which physical activity could suit your needs best and show you effective ways to heal and relax afterward.
Use Ace Swim & Leisure Hot Tubs to Help Your Body Recover
Did you find this information on recovering after a workout useful? We hope so!
As we’ve seen, finding effective ways to help your body recover should be a priority for everyone who enjoys exercise of any kind.
Alas, we may not be able to provide a sports massage or offer personal nutrition advice, but we can deliver a luxury hot tub for you to reap the rewards of hydrotherapy! Click here to see all of the hot tubs we have on sale now, or visit our website to learn more about the benefits involved.
Feel free to contact our team of experts if you’re ready to take the next step and find the best hot tub for you.