When you’ve got a good exercise routine going, it’s not always easy to acknowledge the things you’re doing (maybe even subconsciously) that could actually be hurting your body when your workout’s done.
In order to help you identify and change these post-workout mistakes that you might be making, here are some ideas for quick fixes that can be implemented so you are on your way to fully benefiting from your exercise, even long after your workout is finished!
Not Getting Enough Sleep
Between school or work, home, your social life, and your fitness life, it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep in. You try to scrounge a few hours of rest in here and there when you’re able to, thinking that it’s not a super high priority with everything else going on.
Sleeping should be one of your top priorities, especially when you exercise a lot. Your body uses sleep as a time to heal and rebuild muscle; not getting a solid night’s rest can be detrimental for your fitness and health goals. Try getting a full 8 hours in each night, and check out these tips on ways to improve your sleep.
Not Cooling Down
Cutting out of your fitness class early is sometimes necessary if you need to get back to work or home, so skipping savasana or your normal cool down stretches may not seem like a big deal.
Stretching is absolutely essential following your working out – it helps increase circulation and flexibility, and will help you feel better tomorrow by reducing the possibility of bodily injuries and the ache in your muscles. Even if you are in a hurry to get out of the gym and on to your next adventure, take 5 minutes to do some proper cool down stretches.
Keeping Sweaty Clothes On
Those yoga pants or gym shorts and workout tee are so comfy that you want to lounge in them for hours after you’re done exercising, never mind the fact that they may be a little saturated with your sweat – surely a sign of a great workout.
Sweaty clothes provide a prime breeding ground for bacteria, which can lead to infections and acne. Keep your skin happy by taking a shower right after your workout, and changing into clean clothes.
Also, while you exercise, try to avoid wearing clothes made of cotton – that material retains moisture and sweat. Rather wear clothes made of moisture-wicking fabrics that are designed to keep you dry and cool.
Sometimes after an intense workout, it may feel like your appetite is suppressed. You just can’t fathom the thought of eating anything, so you don’t. Or maybe you’re thinking that not eating after exercise means that you will successfully shed some pounds since you just burned some serious calories.
Not eating after a workout is bad! Your body needs to properly refuel in order to aid in the recovery stage. Nourish it by eating a healthy post-workout snack (or two!) that contains protein, carbs, and healthy fats. Aim to do this within 30 minutes after your workout.
On the other hand, sometimes it’s easy to let your eating habits slip out of control. You may feel like — since you completed a killer workout — eating that double cheeseburger, fries, and shake is completely justified.
This is hardly the case. Eating too much of the wrong foods can understandably counteract everything you’ve worked hard for through your fitness and health achievements. The kinds of foods that you eat post-workout matter – instead of loading up on fatty, greasy junk food, go ahead and load up on the fruits, veggies, lean proteins, and (good-for-you) carbs that your body needs.