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Stretch. Hydrate. Repeat.

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man stretching his arm

The best way to prepare for tomorrow’s fitness challenges is to take the time to properly recover after your workout. Post-workout recovery routines are often neglected due to time constraints or simply being unaware of the associated benefits.

Cooling down after your workouts helps decrease risk of injury, improves flexibility as well as delays the onset of muscle soreness. Cooper Fitness Center Professional Fitness Trainer Angela Horner encourages walking or cycling slowly for 5-10 minutes, allowing your heart rate to return to normal after activities that raise your heart rate significantly such as running, cycling or swimming.

Foam rolling is good to do not only before but also after exercise to help your body move more freely,” says Horner. “Stretching major muscle groups like quadriceps, hamstrings and calves after workouts is important too. And don’t forget your shoulders, torso and back!"

Hydration also plays a key part in post-workout recovery. The American Council on Exercise suggests these basic guidelines for drinking water before, during and after physical activity:

• 17-20 oz. of water two to three hours before you start exercising

• 8 oz. of water 20-30 minutes before exercising, or while warming up

• 4-6 oz. of water every 15-20 minutes during intense prolonged exercise lasting one hour or longer

Horner advises consuming an electrolyte replacement drink in addition to the suggested amount of water if your workout lasts more than one hour in duration or if you are exercising in hot climate conditions, in order to replace minerals and glycogen lost from sweating.

Food is also a key component to refueling your body and recovering after a workout,” says Horner. “Eating a small snack containing carbohydrates, protein and fat within 30 minutes of finishing your workout promotes muscle mass building and replenishes glycogen stores.” Horner recommends looking for foods that are easily digestible, such as a banana with peanut butter, and contain approximately 200-400 calories depending on your body type and the length and intensity of your workouts.

So next time you are tempted to hit the showers before your cool-down, remember that proper recovery after physical activity is essential to decreasing risk of injury, improving flexibility and preventing soreness so you can feel your best and perform your best!

For more information about Cooper Fitness Center or to schedule a session with a Professional Fitness Trainer, visit or call 972.233.4832.