It’s easy to feel like you’ve earned a day on the sofa binge-watching Netflix when you’ve spent the last two hours at the gym.
Don’t succumb to this.
Light activity is a great recovery tool because it keeps blood moving, aiding your recovery by repairing and refueling your body.
Plan some light activity throughout the day, even if you are headed to work. Get up, walk around, do some gentle stretches while standing, and breathe deeply.
Plan to drink and eat after your workouts, preferably within 20 to 30 minutes of finishing.
If you are headed right to work, or have other commitments immediately after a workout, pack a cooler with some healthy snacks beforehand so you can grab and go—possibly even eating in the car.
Be sure your snacks include protein, a little fat, and some complex carbohydrates for replenishing energy needs. Good options include low-fat chocolate milk, a turkey sandwich on whole wheat bread, almonds, fruit, or yogurt.
Keep plenty of water on hand, too, so you can rehydrate throughout the day.
And as easy as it is to do, avoid the other extreme of pigging out after a hard workout.
Don’t rationalize that you can eat anything you want because you exercised today.
Replacing the calories that you burned during your workout is all too easy, so don’t undo all your gym time by overeating.
It sounds good at first: While sweaty, why not do the yard work when you get home before getting cleaned up?
You could mow the lawn, pull weeds, shovel snow, or do other heavy chores.
But this can be very tough on tired muscles, especially when you are partially dehydrated and/or undernourished from your workout.
Doing things like bending over, stooping, climbing ladders, or picking up heavy equipment when your muscles are already tired can be a recipe for injury.
If at all possible, put these chores off just one day or give yourself several solid hours of recovery time.
While all this sounds like the perfect excuse to get out of getting those leaves out of the gutter, it’s much better to do these tasks when you are at full strength.
Don’t minimize your accomplishments.
Thinking that you don’t need recovery because your workout was “too short” or “too easy” is misguided thinking.
Treat your body with respect—just like the elite athletes do—regardless of how long or hard you worked out.
You will reap the rewards of your training and your body will thank you if you take care of it and recover properly.