Yes, working out is very important for your body. Keeping your body moving and working your muscles not only helps with your overall mobility, but it can also help boost your immune system. Which does help with overall weight loss. However, if you're not incorporating the proper post-workout habits into your fitness routine, you could be completely upending all of the hard work you just put in. By adding these post-workout habits into your life, you'll find your body healthier and happier because of it.
In order to determine healthy post-workout habits, we spoke to Brianna Bernard, Personal Trainer, Nutrition Coach, and Isopure Ambassador, to determine what you should do after every workout in order to properly fuel and take care of your body. Here are a few of her tips, and for more healthy tips, check out our list of 21 Best Healthy Cooking Hacks of All Time.
Take time for a proper cool down.
Even if taking time to stretch and cool down your body seems time-consuming, Bernard says it's incredibly important in order to properly take care of your body.
"Just like slamming on the breaks while going 70 miles per hour isn't good for your car, intense training without a proper cool down isn't great for your body and catches up with a person over time," says Bernard. "It's important to bring your heart rate back down slowly, like pedaling on a flat road after an intense cycling class. Light stretching can also be helpful both physically and mentally as you transition from high-intensity training to the office or home to make dinner for your family."
Plus, stretching is one of the 30 Healthy Habits Fit People Live By.
Rehydrate with water.
We all know the importance of what happens to your body when you drink water, but it's especially important to hydrate after a tough workout.
"Drinking plenty of water to rehydrate and refueling with a nutrient-rich snack or meal is imperative to muscle recovery and growth," says Bernard. " To compensate for all of the sweating I do during a workout, I drink 32 oz. of water after every workout."
Plus, it's important to make sure you're drinking enough water throughout the day. Here's how to calculate how much water you should be drinking.
Refuel with a nutrient-rich snack or meal.
"I recommend a serving of lean protein, vegetables, healthy fat, and complex carbohydrates. For example, grilled salmon, garlic roasted Brussels sprouts, and a serving of sweet potatoes is one great option," says Bernard.
However, if you're on-the-go and need something quick, Bernard has a few healthy alternatives that you can throw into your bag.
"I recommend having a protein shake, protein bar, or a handful of raw almonds and an apple," says Bernard. "None of this requires refrigeration or reheating and can be thrown in your car or gym bag for convenience. We should always consume whole foods first, but supplementing with protein powder is a great way to meet your nutritional needs when a sit-down meal is not an option."
You can also turn to one of these 19 High-Protein, Low-Carb Snacks For Weight Loss.
Loosen tight muscles.
"I also love incorporating mobility work after a good lifting or cardio session because my muscles are warm and malleable," says Bernard. "I use lacrosse balls, tennis balls, and other mobility tools to loosen tight muscles, improve posture and stability, and increase flexibility. Making time for these types of exercises can improve your recovery and keeps your body healthy by preventing injuries from happening."
Avoid highly processed foods.
While a bag of chips may sound like a tempting treat after a hard workout, Bernard says eating empty calories or highly-processed foods will not help in refueling your body and aiding your muscle recovery.
"After an intense workout, your body needs nutrients to replenish your muscles, joints, tendons, and organs," says Bernard. "Eating a handful of cookies, crackers, pretzels, popcorn or fast food is going to hinder your recovery and we need to eat lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates in order to build lean muscle and burn fat!"
Just starting to work out? Here are some tips.
If you're interested in starting a workout routine, Bernard has a few tricks to get you started.
"I always encourage people to pick forms of exercise or activities you enjoy," Bernard says. "For example, if you like being outdoors, then maybe hiking, biking or kayaking are some good options for you! If you enjoy meditation, then yoga or tai chi could be a good fit. If walking on a treadmill or elliptical machine feels boring to you, then try weight lifting or boxing instead. The bottom line is, if you don't at least somewhat enjoy it, you're not going to do it."
Next, Bernard says that it's better to set attainable goals than to promise yourself goals that are harder to achieve. For example, if choosing to workout 2 to 3 times a week works better than promising yourself to train 5 to 7, it's better to start out slow.
"It's better to underpromise and overdeliver than to overpromise and underdeliver because if you set a goal and never reach it, you will feel like a failure," says Bernard. But if you set a goal to exercise even twice per week in the beginning and you actually follow through with it, you'll feel so proud of yourself that you actually did what you said you were going to do."
Lastly, be careful to only perform exercises that are appropriate for your fitness level. This is also important for those who may already have a pre-existing condition.
"The good news is, there is a modification for everything! You don't need to do burpees or box jumps or overhead barbell squats to be fit," says Bernard. "Finding the movements that feel good to your body is more important than following any particular style or method of training."
Just make sure to avoid these 15 Exercise Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Workout!