The Road to Recovery
No matter what your fitness objectives are, it is just as important to give your body the care and time it needs to recover as it is to push forward to reach new goals. Good nutrition, plenty of rest and caring for your body will help you to be stronger and more efficient.
1. Eat Up
You should fuel your body both before and after working out. It was a long-held myth that working out on an empty stomach burns more fat. Research shows there is no difference in the amount of fat burned whether or not you eat before a workout, but exercising in a depleted state may cause you to lose muscle.1 A healthy pre-workout snack can also give you the energy and stamina to workout longer and harder.
Aim to consume a light snack with carbohydrates for energy around 30-60 minutes before working out. After exercising, you should consume protein and carbohydrates about 20 minutes after your workout to help your body repair itself. The convenient, single serving Hollywood Diet® cookie or brownie makes a great pre- or post-workout snack, with healthy carbs, protein and fiber. Keep a box of cookies in your gym bag so you’ll always be prepared.
2. Warm Up, Cool Down
To prevent injuries and speed recovery, it’s important to take the time to warm up before a workout and also to cool down and stretch after a workout. Depending on your workout, you may need a more vigorous warm-up or a focus on particular muscle groups, but in general the idea is to gently warm the body while incorporating deep breathing to ready the cardiovascular system. A warm-up that works for many types of exercise is simply walking at a brisk pace while swinging the arms. Focus on deep breaths in through the nose and full exhales through the mouth. If you have a particular tightness that you want to stretch out prior to a workout, make sure you are warmed up first to avoid injuries to muscles and joints.
After a workout, spend at least 10 minutes gently stretching major muscle groups. Many beginning yoga poses are excellent stretching postures. Depending on your flexibility, you may experience some discomfort when stretching, but be careful not to push any stretch to the point of intense pain. After a really intense workout, you may find ice therapy to be beneficial. Use an ice pack to cool sore muscles for 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off, for a total of 20 minutes of icing each area. The ice will help to reduce and prevent inflammation and will actually help warm and stimulate circulation in the area, by causing the body to increase blood flow to the area once the ice is removed.
3. Sleep it Off
One of the best things you can do to help your body recover is to get a full night’s sleep on a regular basis. When we sleep, our body is able to repair itself, so when we are sleep deprived we are not allowing our body time to heal. Exercise can help you sleep, just be careful not to exercise too close to bedtime, as it may stimulate you and make it harder to fall asleep. A guided meditation is an excellent way to calm the mind and prepare for sleep.