Sure, we all know we should be stretching and drinking plenty of water, but we don’t normally make it a priority. Would you take the time to stretch if you knew it would help you relax while improving flexibility and speeding muscle recovery? Would you make it a priority to drink more water if you knew that it benefited just about every function in your body?
Knowledge is power—read on for the 10 things you should do after every workout and why they will help further your progress.
Tons of people finish their workout and head straight for the locker room but missing out on a proper cool down is a big mistake. During intense exercise your heart rate is way up, when you’re done you need to bring it back down slowly. Immediately stopping activity can cause blood to pool in your legs or feelings of dizziness, so take a few minutes to wind down. If you were running on the treadmill, cool down there and if you were strength training, fit in some dynamic stretches.
Taking the time to stretch after a workout will help with flexibility and muscle recovery. The process usually helps the body relax and as long as you don’t push too hard, stretching should help you get back to your next workout feeling less sore.
Hopefully you’ve been hydrating before and during your workout, but it’s still crucial to hydrate after. Especially after a strenuous sweat session, our bodies need fluids and nutrients replaced. Water usually does the trick but if you’ve just finished a particularly hard or long workout you might need something more substantial, like coconut water.
Much like rehydrating, it’s important to refuel—your body expends a lot of energy during a workout and fueling up properly will help you make the most of your progress and have you rebounding sooner. There’s a lot of advice on post-exercise nutrition out there, but the best advice we’ve found is to find a snack that’s high in protein and also hydrating.
You don’t necessarily need a fitness tracker to keep track of your progress, a simple pen and journal is often the best tool. Writing down what you did during your workout, how you felt about it and some other details (amount of sleep, water and food) can help you see objective progress and learn what works best for you.
Not only will a post-workout shower keep you smelling fresh, the water and soap combo removes the perspiration from your skin. When left unchecked, that moisture creates an environment for bacteria to spread. When you stay in sweaty clothes, you’re more likely to suffer from skin infections, rashes or breakouts.
If you’re pressed for time and can’t fit in a shower, baby wipes and a new set of clothes can be a great back-up option. Wipe down and then ensure you’re dry—bacteria can’t spread as quickly without moisture.
The best way to stay motivated is to think about your goals and then remember how far you’ve already come. Take a look at your journal, or whatever you use to track your progress, acknowledge your accomplishments and think about what you want to improve for next time.