You just finished a great workout, and you’re feeling pretty good. Whether you showed that treadmill who was boss or strengthened your core, now you’re ready to head for the gym door. Wait! Not so fast! What you do after a workout is just as important as the workout itself, and it’s easy to derail all the hard work if you aren’t careful. Read on for nine things you should NEVER do after a workout.
1. Forgetting to Cool Down: The last thing you may want to do after a five-mile run on the treadmill is walk for another five minutes, but taking the time to cool down lets your heart rate and blood pressure return to normal and prevents venous pooling (the buildup of blood in the veins). Plus, it feels nice and helps get rid of that “jelly leg” sensation. (via Parade)
2. Skipping Your Stretch: Taking a few moments to stretch after a workout will prevent your muscles from contracting, and instead allow them to rebuild, giving you the maximum benefit of your exercise. Plus, stretching also helps you relax and can reduce muscle soreness and stiffness. (via For Living Strong)
3. Not Eating: Now, we don’t mean you should hit up the Golden Arches on the way home. But it’s important to have a snack — one that features carbs and protein — within an hour of your workout. Your body needs the energy to repair and refuel itself. (via Buzzfeed)
4. Neglecting Your Water Bottle: Your body needs to replenish the water it stores in order to stay hydrated, so make sure you drink two to three cups in the hours right after your workout. (via Fit Sugar)
5. Reaching for a Sports Drink: They’re marketed as the perfect post-workout drink, but unless you’ve been running a marathon, sports drinks pack way too much sugar and calories to be effective. Stick with regular water, or add a splash of coconut water if you’re really worried about electrolytes. (via Fit Sugar)
6. Touching Your Face: Hands off! Rubbing your eyes or touching your face after a workout can spread bacteria, since gyms aren’t always the cleanest of places. Wash your hands, wipe your face with a towel and wipe down machines after you’re done with them. (via ChaCha)
7. Not Recording Your Progress: Keeping track of your workout is the best way to monitor your progress, help you gauge where you’re plateauing and keep you motivated. If you did 20 pushups last month, that means you can do 25 this month! If you don’t want to use pen and paper, there are a ton of great apps available. (via Pickcrew)
8. Staying in Sweaty Clothes: Those yoga pants might be super comfortable, but not changing out of your sweaty workout clothes can lead to yeast infections or body acne. Shower and change as soon as you can, and if you have to run errands after the gym, stay away from cotton, which traps in moisture. (via Women’s Health)
What are your tricks and tips for maximizing a workout? Let us know in the comments below or on Facebook!