Over the years I’ve gone through phases with fitness. I either seem to be completely obsessed, or not at all, there’s no real in between for me. Last year I was completely obsessed with learning to run, I would run several times a week and I even took part in a 5K mud run later in the year. But alas I stopped running a few months after that as I hurt my back, and really it turned out I wasn’t very good at running. Since then I’ve been sticking to the gym and recently since I’ve had a car accident I’ve taken up pilates to help improve strength in my back, and improve on my core strength.
While I’m not the fittest person or even someone who’s into fitness that much, I’ve learnt a few things about exercising along the way, and in particular why recovering properly is so important. I never realised that we needed rest after a work out to help the muscles grow, otherwise we’re depriving our muscles the opportunity to grow. A couple of months ago Simply Health shared this article on recovery and why it was so important after exercise. They’ve made some great points in this article, so I thought I’d also share a few of my own that I’ve learnt along the way.
Make sure you stretch
I’m terrible at this, for years I used to finish my work out at the gym and just go home. No stretching, no cooling down. But really after a tough workout you need to have a good stretch, it really is the simplest and fastest way to help your muscles recover.
Get plenty of sleep
I’m guilty of not sleeping enough, I’m terrible at staying awake all night looking at random things on the internet, or I just binge watch Netflix all night. But it turns out not getting enough sleep isn’t good for you and your muscle repair. While you sleep your body produces a growth hormone that is responsible for tissue growth and repair.
Eat healthy recovery foods
When I first started trying to lose a bit of weight a few years ago I used to go to the gym and have a crazy work out, and then not eat afterwards. I thought why should I burn off loads of calories just to put more in, but you should actually aim to eat within 60 minutes of the end of your workout for a good recovery. Of course you need to be eating the right thing, there’s no use heading to your nearest McDonalds, because that won’t help you. Instead aim to eat something with high-quality protein and a complex carbohydrate.
Listen to your body
The most important thing you can do to recover properly is to listen to your body. If you’re tired, get some more rest or if you notice a decreased performance maybe take a rest from training for a while, and likewise if you’re feeling good and strong after a work out, then you don’t need to rest as much. Our bodies are great at telling us what they need, you just need to listen.