Friday, May 20, 2016

Your body will love exercise more if you treat it right afterwards

Exercise is good for you.  You know that.  However, there’s one aspect of exercise that many people do wrong.  I don’t mean the exercise itself (whatever it is).  As long as you’re careful, there is almost no such thing as bad exercise.  Nonetheless, if you aren’t taking proper care of yourself after your workout, then you are missing out on many of the benefits that you were looking for.

Proper self-care after a workout - any workout - will help your body recover better and work more efficiently.  It will help you reach your goals faster too.  Let’s take a look at four things you should do after every workout, in order to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your exercise:

1. Cool Down.  Few people drive a stick shift anymore.  If you do (or ever have) you know that you don’t jump from fifth gear down to first.  Guess what?  That's what most of us do when we finish our workouts or jogging.  If nothing else, just walk around for five minutes or so.

2. Stretch a little bit!  You've seen your dogs and cats do it.  In fact, all mammals stretch when they wake up - even babies and toddlers.  Adult humans are seemingly the only exception.  We're 'too busy'.  We get too caught up in our heads and into our days, too quickly.  Spending five to ten minutes stretching, after your cool down, helps to release even more lactic acid from your muscles and speed recovery. In addition, stretching is one of the most under-appreciated aspects of fitness. Lots of people think that stretching before working out is best - and that’s a good way to prevent injury during your immediate workout. But stretching after you’ve exercised is the most effective way to increase flexibility going forward.

3. Take a bath after exercise.   Heat can sooth sore muscles and joints.  Hot baths are a great way to deliver that warmth.  Adding about one cup each of Epsom salt and baking soda to your water works even better.  That’s because the alkaline pH of Epsom salts and baking soda counteract the lactic acid in your muscles.  Delivering Epsom salt to your body neutralizes lactic acid.  Once more, you’ll feel much better, much faster, doing just this.  Of course, this takes a little extra time... so make the time.

4. Eat right all the time.  Toning and muscle-building exercises are all about creating micro-tears in your muscles, and rebuilding them bigger and stronger.  To do that, you need the proper fuel.  Immediately after exercising (within the first hour if possible) you need a good source of protein.  Why?  Our muscles are made of protein, and any protein-rich food (like meat, tofu, or even protein shakes) gives your body the exact fuel it needs as it goes about rebuilding your muscles. Wait too long and the protein won’t get to your muscles before the process begins.  This also is a good time to have a few carbohydrates, especially after an aerobic workout.  Carbohydrates make up the store of our immediately accessible energy.  And of course, rehydrate yourself as well.  Nothing will work without the water necessary to smooth all the body’s processes.

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