Most of us have a great pre-workout routine. We do warm ups, stretching, and drink plenty of water. However, what do we do after the workout? If you think heading straight home is the answer, you're wrong. Exercise may be over, but your work isn't.
What so many people don't realize is the importance of what you do post-workout. You may have done the hard part, but that doesn't mean you should just pack up and go. What you do to your body after every exercise has a direct effect on your muscle growth and state of hydration.
Aside from congratulating yourself for a work well done, here are 5 things to do after workout.
1. Cool down
To bring your heart rate back to normal, it is necessary to have a 5-10 minute cool down after your workout. Even if running was all you did, you still have to do light cardio for a few minutes. Aside from bringing your heart rate down at a steady pace, cooling down can also lower your body temperature, prevent muscle soreness, and avoid feeling sick. Walking on a treadmill for 5 minutes is an easy way to cool down.
Stretching is very important before and after exercise. Aside from aiding in body circulation, it decreases muscle stiffness and helps improve your range of motion. It reduces the chance of injury and helps eliminate the body's waste products. After workout, muscles naturally contract. Stretching allows them to rebuild and prevents them from shrinking. Stretching will also allow you to get the full benefit from your efforts.
3. Drink water
Just because you've finished working out doesn't mean you're done hydrating. Even when you're actually done with exercise, you still need to replace lost body fluids. Chances are you've lost a lot of fluids during your workout. It's recommended to take in another 2-3 cups of water even after you're finished. Continue drinking regularly afterwards, even if you may not feel thirsty anymore.
In other words, eat. Some people find it hard to believe as this seems counterproductive. However, it is very important to refuel and replenish lost carbohydrates after workout as you have burned hundreds of calories and have torn your muscles. To repair your muscles and boost your energy, eat food that are packed with carbohydrates and protein. The only thing you need to remember though, is to eat within 90 minutes of your workout-the sooner, the better.
5. Take a hot bath
Taking a bath after a vigorous workout is actually a vital part of your recovery. Draw a bath as hot as you can stand. If you have Epsom salts, or magnesium sulfate (which is available at most pharmacies) will help to relax muscles, increase circulation, reduce inflammation, and promote detox.
6. Get a massage
Give your muscles a little love after workout. Deep tissue massages makes you feel great and improves muscle tissues. If you have a personal masseuse, ask her to achieve a similar effect by rolling a cylindrical piece of foam on your back. This irons out knots in ways stretching can't. Do this before and after workout, and also while watching TV at home.
Aside from writing about fitness and exercise, Melissa Page also blogs about health and the importance of health insurance. When she's not writing, you can find her in the gym or out jogging with her friends.