So you’ve just wrapped up a great workout session and you are PUMPED! You made sure to warm-up beforehand and made it through your routine without any strains or sprains.You are energized and ready to tackle your day. But wait—what are you doing to cool down after your workout?
A post-workout routine is just as important as what you do before you hit the gym. Much like a good warm up, adding even just a 30-minute cool down regimen can help you maximize the results of your workout, help prevent injury, and boost the mental health benefits of exercise. Let’s take a look at a few post-workout recommendations
Stretch It Out
When done right, post-workout stretching can help prevent added muscle soreness and stiffness, boost your performance for future workouts, prevent injuries, and noticeably reduce recovery time between routines. A well-rounded cooldown stretch session also allows your breathing and heart rate to gradually return to normal, therefore reducing some of the stress on your cardiovascular system. Not sure which stretches are the best for your routine? A physical therapist can help with that!
Hydrate & Nourish
Though this seems like a no-brainer, no post-workout routine is complete without a dedicated water break. And while we are on the subject of replenishing our bodies, be sure to eat between 30 and 60 minutes after you finish exercising—even if you’re trying to lose weight. Your post-workout meal should include a balance of healthy carbs (whole grains, nuts, vegetables), fruit (for a little fructose energy boost), and portioned proteins. Everyone’s dietary needs are different, especially when considering individual fitness routines, so check with a healthcare professional to see what best suits you.
Walk it Out
A brief walk around the block or quick stroll is another great way to keep your muscles relaxed and gradually bring your heart rate and breathing back to a normal state. Active cooldowns like stretching and walking help transition your body from high to low intensity activities without a drastic crash. Strut your stuff—you earned it!
After you’ve completed your active cooldown activities, cap off your post-workout routine with a 5 to10 minute mindfulness exercise. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or new to the art of meditation, making time to turn off your mind and be present will greatly benefit you. If you want a more guided experience, try downloading a free meditation app (there’s plenty to choose from!). Just like your body needs to gradually transition from active to passive states, so does your mind.