Cool Down Key Points
Nurse Susan provides key information about the five things to do after every workout for maximum results.
Whether you lift weights or live for cardio, nobody wants their hard work in the gym to go to waste. A lot of people do not realize that, when it comes to seeing results, what they do after their workouts makes just as much as a difference as what they do during. Make sure you are doing these five things when you are done exercising to see the best results and make sure all your effort truly pays off.
Lower Your Heart Rate
Do not rush out to your car or plop down on the couch (if you are exercising at home) the second your workout ends. Instead, take some time to dynamically cool down.
Like a dynamic warm-up, a dynamic cool down involves continuing to move to gradually reduce your heart rate.
This kind of cool down helps you avoid muscle soreness. It also encourages healthy blood circulation to ensure your muscles get all the nutrients and oxygen they need to recover more quickly.
Walking and light jogging are popular dynamic cool down options, but you can also spend 5-10 minutes rolling out your muscles with a foam roller or massage ball to help you recover and heal faster.
Loosen Up Your Muscles
Once you have started to lower your heart rate with a dynamic cool down, it is also a good idea to take a few minutes for some static stretching.
Static stretching before a workout is not always the best idea as it has been linked with increased risk of injury, however, it is a great post-workout option to loosen up your muscles and reduce soreness.
You do not need to take a ton of time to stretch, but you should try to spend 30-60 seconds on each of the muscle groups that you targeted during your workout.
If you are not sure where to start when it comes to stretching, try following along with a short yoga video. There are lots of free videos to choose from online, and many are broken down into different categories, so you can find one that will specifically help you stretch the muscles you focused on during your training session.
In addition to taking a few minutes to stretch, you should also take a minute or two to meditate.
Post-workout meditation has a number of physical and mental health benefits, including the following:
If you are brand new to meditation, do not let it intimidate you. It is totally fine to start with just one minute. Simply sit comfortably with your back somewhat straight, close your eyes, and focus on the feeling of your breath leaving and entering your body. One minute will be up before you know it!
When you are done exercising, it is important to properly refuel your body with a meal that consists mainly of fast-digesting carbs and protein.
These nutrients will help with muscle repair. A post-workout meal can also help you avoid overeating later on (as you probably know, exercising often increases your appetite).
Many people use protein shakes as their preferred form of post-workout fuel. Protein shakes are not the worst thing to have after exercising, but many protein powders are very low in carbohydrates, which is what your body needs more of after exercising.
Experts recommend an approximately 2:1 ratio of carbohydrates to protein after a workout. This means you should have about twice as many carbohydrates as you have protein.
Protein shakes are fine every once in a while, especially if you pair them with some fast-digesting carbohydrates like white rice, rice cakes, or some fruit. But, it is better to focus on getting your protein, for the most part, from whole foods.
Choose chicken breasts, lean ground beef, or ground turkey whenever you can. In addition to being more easily absorbed, these protein sources also have other essential nutrients and are far less processed than a protein powder.
What about fat? Fat is an essential Contribute, but it is not ideal to have a ton of it after a workout. It digests slower than protein and carbohydrates, which makes it great for satiety, but not great for getting nutrients to the muscles as quickly as possible.
During your workout, you probably sweated quite a bit. Make sure you drink plenty of water when you are done exercising to rehydrate and improve your blood circulation (which is necessary for efficient muscle recovery).
In most cases, water is the ideal beverage to consume following a workout, unless you did a lot of sweating and are particularly dehydrated. In that case, you may want to try a sports drink meant to help replenish your electrolytes. Try to find one that is not filled with tons of sugar or artificial sweeteners.
There are also lots of whole food options available for replenishing electrolytes, too. Some of the best things to reach for include:
If you feel like you are not seeing the best results from your workouts, your post-workout routine could be (at least partially) to blame. Try these five practices after your next workout and you will be amazed at how much better you feel at the end of the day!
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About the Author
Nurse Susan has always been passionate about helping people heal. After she retired from a lifelong career as a nurse, that passion did not go away. She loves to use her expertise to write about the best ways to keep you and your family healthy, active, and happy.
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