Recovering after a workout

January 9, 2008 6:13:20 PM PST
Training sessions are great for the body, but must be followed by periods of proper recovery to avoid injury, overtraining, and staleness. During recovery, your body systems should be returned to the state they were in before exercise. You want to rid your muscles of lactic acid and other waste products, replenish energy sources used during exercise, fill up your body fluid reservoirs, minimize any muscle soreness resulting from exercise, and re-energize your mind. Here are some tips that will help you feel more energetic after working out.
  • After exercise, don't stop and rest immediately. You can speed up the removal of lactic acid from muscles by continuing to exercise at a low intensity for 10-20 minutes. This cool-down exercise can help reduce the feelings of stiffness after a workout.
  • Stretch major muscle groups after cool-down exercise to get the maximal benefits of stretching. If you stretch too aggressively before exercise, you risk damaging those tissues. Wait until the tissues are warmed up by exercise, and you can perform better stretches that will minimize soreness and help prevent future injuries.
  • Body fluids are lost in sweat, and quickly replacing that fluid is crucial. Fluids are needed to maintain blood volume to deliver oxygen and fuel to muscles. Moreover, without enough fluids, you can't sweat to help keep your body temperature at safe levels. Consume fluids an hour or so before exercise, drink during exercise to replace sweat loss, and replace body weight lost during exercise by drinking during recovery.
  • A good night's sleep helps you get physically and mentally prepared for your next workout. Poor sleep habits will eventually lead to poor performance, so try to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night to ensure full recovery from your last workout. The Houston YMCA is an advertiser in our 'Get Healthy Houston' program