Being active is absolutely key to living a healthy lifestyle. Whether you’re a walker, jogger, sprinter, swimmer, skier, dancer, or basketball player, having a form of exercise you’re passionate about is essential to staying happy, healthy, and energized.
Running and walking are easy to fit into your everyday lifestyle – no special equipment needed – and therefore constitute some of the most popular forms of regular fitness. They increase your heart rate, build muscle, and decrease stress – an absolute win.
We give you major props if you fit in regular runs or daily walks, making fitness a lifetime priority. But even the most advanced runners forget a vital part of maximizing the positive effects a run can have: recovery.
Proper recovery is essential for your body to come down from a run or walk. It helps your muscles return to their normal state from an active one and allows your heart rate and breathing to go back to normal. Without proper recovery time, your body will inevitably feel sore, tired, and even a bit achy a few hours after your exercise session is over.
But what is the most effective way to properly recover after a workout session?
- Cool down the right way. Crossing the finish line or completing an hour-long spin class doesn’t mean you’re done with your workout: you should still fit in a cool-down to jumpstart your recovery process. A cool-down can include stretching, a slow walk, or other drills that help bring down your heart rate and stretch out your muscles.
- Water up. No matter what type of exercise you pursue, chances are you’ve released some serious sweat. Sweating releases fluids from your body, and water or organic sports drinks help bring those fluid levels back up. Hydration prevents achy muscles and even potential dizziness, so drink up!
- Refuel. You just spent time burning some serious calories – now it’s time to replenish them. You may not be starving right after your workout – and that’s okay. Try refueling with a portioned blend of protein and carbohydrates (think: eggs and toast, peanut butter and an apple). These nutrients will help your body repair any damage your muscles endured during your sweat session (muscle damage – not injury – is normal… it means you’re getting stronger!).
- Active recovery. While stretching is key to decreasing the potential for sore muscles, active recovery can also be useful; working out is never an excuse to stay on the couch for the day. Head out on a walk with a loved one, do a few errands, or go out with friends. The more active your muscles stay during the day, the less likely they are to feel sore.
- Self check-in. How do you feel after your run? Are you mentally and physically stable and happy? If not, reevaluate your exercise regimen: are you going too hard? Are you not challenging yourself enough? Reevaluating your progress is key to always improving and becoming your absolute best self.
All in all, a proper recovery is key to making the most of your exercise routine. How do you like to effectively recover post-run? Let us know in the comments below.