It’s hard enough to get exercise in when the gyms are closed, so don’t sabotage your progress by doing the wrong things afterward. These post-workout dos and don’ts can help you maximize the results of all your work and sweat.
Post-Workout DO: Cool Down
When you’re exercising, your blood vessels widen. They need to gradually return to normal by walking for a few more minutes. Whether you’re a world-class athlete or just starting to exercise, you need to ease your muscles back into your everyday routine. Stretch out while they’re still warm and pliable. It will relieve tension and even build your range of motion.
Post-Workout DON’T: Lay Down
The workout video may have stopped, but your body hasn’t. Resist the urge to collapse in a puddle on the carpet. If you halt your muscles abruptly, they’ll stop contracting vigorously, causing blood to pool in your lower extremities. Without blood pumping back up to your heart and brain, you can get dizzy or even faint.
Post-Workout DO: Drink Water
We need at least eight glasses of water each day to keep our bodies in top condition, but you’re losing a lot of that during your workout. Depending on how much you sweat, you’ll want to replace that hydration with two or three more glasses in addition to what you drank while exercising.
Post-Workout DON’T: Drink Sports Beverages
It may sound counterintuitive, but sports and protein drinks aren’t necessary for most exercisers. They’re high in calories and sugars that don’t add anything to your program. Watch out for “energy” bars; you don’t need them, either.
Post-Workout DO: Change Your Clothes
Even if you can’t change your whole outfit, it’s important to remove any wet clothing. You could even put on a fresh pair of compression socks—the improved blood circulation not only improves your workout, but it helps afterward to speed up muscle recovery, too.
Post-Workout DON’T: Chill in Damp Gear
Lingering in your wet workout gear can trap moisture, promoting yeast, fungus, bacteria, and germs. Get out of your sweaty clothes while your muscles are warm and loose, before your gear can give you a chill.
Post-Workout DO: Refuel With Protein
It’s good to eat within half an hour or so of exercise because protein can give you amino acids to repair muscles. Fish, chicken, and lean beef are ideal options, but quick snacks can be helpful as well—consider eggs, almonds, or cottage cheese.
Post-Workout DON’T: Reward Yourself With a Feast
Whether it’s true or not, you probably think you’ve worked up a good appetite. But when it comes to post-workout dos and don’ts, chowing down on hearty fare is the one “don’t” that can undo all your good work. Exercising doesn’t suddenly warrant hundreds of additional calories. In addition to protein, balance your next meal with complex carbohydrates to replenish energy.