Tips for Recovering from a Workout Quickly

Incorporating regular exercise into your wellness routine is one of the best ways to simultaneously address your physical and mental health. But what happens when that workout leaves you feeling too drained and exhausted to do it all over again the following day?

Making recovery an essential part of your workout can help address everything from sore muscles to decreased motivation to exercise, no matter your level of physical fitness. Explore these tips for bouncing back from all types of workouts quickly to help you feel rested, recovered, and ready to stay on top of your fitness routine. 

Stay Hydrated

Doesn’t it seem like drinking water is the answer to everything? It keeps you hydrated, healthy, and happy, and it’s one of the main keys to recovering effectively after exercising.

Try to refrain from guzzling all your water immediately after the workout though. Even if you’re keeping your exercise low-key, you’re likely breaking a sweat. So staying hydrated during exercise helps you replace those fluids as they’re leaving your body and can prevent heat exhaustion.

Staying hydrated during exercise helps you replace fluids as they leave your body when you sweat.
Staying hydrated during exercise helps you replace fluids as they leave your body when you sweat.

You also don’t have to stick to water if you prefer a little flavor while working out. Electrolyte-replacement drinks such as Gatorade and Powerade work to rehydrate you quickly and give you a carbohydrate energy boost for longer periods of exercise.

Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods

Keep your body and mind feeling constantly nourished with an overall balanced diet. Picking your pre- and post-workout foods can further boost your physical health and benefit strained muscles needing some extra TLC after all types of exercise.

One of the most daunting parts of increasing the difficulty and intensity of your workout routine is the knowledge that you’ll likely wake up the next day with sore muscles. Get ahead of those aches and pains and give your body that extra recovery boost with foods that help your muscles bounce back quickly and efficiently. Carbohydrate-, fiber-, protein-, and antioxidant-rich meals can replace electrolytes, reduce inflammation, and improve your metabolism.

Studies show that your post-workout recovery meal can set you up for success the next time you exercise, but do try to eat as soon after the workout as possible to ensure you’re replenishing your body’s nutrients in a timely manner.

Consistency Is Key

Developing a consistent workout routine is one of the easiest ways to boost motivation to exercise more regularly.

Help boost your motivation to exercise more regularly by developing a consistent workout routine.
Help boost your motivation to exercise more regularly by developing a consistent workout routine.

But what happens when we skip a day or two, or even three? We’ve all experienced that feeling: having little to no motivation to get our bodies moving. However, it’s those kinds of days where it helps to push yourself to get up and exercise, even if it’s as simple as taking a short walk around the neighborhood. 

Keep in mind that you should still be listening to your body. If your fatigued muscles are telling you that you need a complete rest day, then definitely don’t force yourself to do more than they should. Just remember that moving just enough to get your blood flowing and to stretch your legs can do wonders for stress relief and preventing your body from staying too sedentary for extended periods of time.

Stretching and Cooling Down

Did you know that you’re more flexible after a workout? Take advantage of that improved mobility and stretch after exercising to help reduce your risk of injury, increase blood flow, and decrease muscle tension in your body.

Keep in mind that the types of stretches you’ll do can vary depending on the type of exercise you’ve just completed. Today.com shared 11 of their go-to stretches to get you started.

While stretching before exercise does not prevent soreness and can even increase your risk of injury if you put too much strain on a cold muscle, you can prepare your body before a workout by taking a few minutes to do an active warm-up. For example, if you’re lifting weights, start with a lower amount and increase gradually to give your muscles a chance to adjust. Getting ready for a jog? Begin with a slower stroll that builds up to your normal running pace and allows your heart rate to increase gradually.

Overnight Recovery

We’ve shared ways to encourage quick recovery after a workout, but it’s just as important to give more long-term attention to your muscles.

Getting a good night’s sleep has countless benefits, but winding down in the evenings and getting adequate rest will actually give your body extra time to really recover from exercising. Sleep and exercise also work both ways, so just as getting enough rest at night prepares you for your next workout, regular exercise can help improve sleep quality. 

Just as getting enough rest at night prepares you for your next workout, regular exercise can help improve your overall sleep quality.
Just as getting enough rest at night prepares you for your next workout, regular exercise can help improve your overall sleep quality.

You may even find that fitting in that daily workout can reduce the amount of time it takes you to fall asleep. The Sleep Foundation does mention that a healthy sleep cycle alone may not be enough to set you up for good physical fitness, so you should always make sure your wellness routine is made up of many positive habits that work together to ensure you feel your best before, during, and after working out.

Finally, remember that because each person exercises differently, everyone will have different recovery needs. While some people can run a marathon and be back in the gym the next morning, others may need a day or two of recovery and lower-stress exercise after one intense body-weight routine. We will always be at different spots in our wellness journeys, and so as long as you’re listening to your body and doing your best to maintain good physical health, your body (and your mind) will thank you.

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