Making time to squeeze in a gym session between other everyday obligations can sometimes make it tempting to get in and out without taking proper care of the body post-workout. Here are some simple tips for making the most out of those muscles and staying out of pain in the short and long term.

During A Workout

Staying hydrated is key during any workout, with the amount of water necessary varying by the intensity of the exercise and external factors like temperature and levels of pre-workout hydration. Bring a water bottle or get some extra steps in by walking to the gym’s water fountains in between different sets or exercises. If plain water isn’t palatable enough, try infusing fruit with an infuser bottle or adding sports drink powders.

Immediately After A Workout

Plan for a cool-down session. It’s tough on muscles to go from very active to still, whether that is sitting down at a work desk or flopping on the couch. Plan in time for a short, slow walk on the treadmill to slowly decrease the heart rate, and then grab a healthy snack that has both protein and carbohydrates. Smoothies are a great mix of those two macronutrients, are easy to make, and are packed full of micronutrients as well!

Same Day Of The Workout

Starting with a cold shower before cranking up the heat can help fight inflammation, and especially on hot summer days, it can feel amazing, too. It’s totally fine to start with cold water for as long as possible and then turn the heat up to get warm. However, if the cold is just altogether too intimidating, try some restorative yoga poses. A common favorite is elevating both legs against the wall and staying that way for 5 to 10 minutes, but there are many restorative yoga poses to choose from.

Exercise has numerous health benefits, from physical to mental and emotional, but the fact is, small amounts of damage to muscles are what allows them to grow. Taking time to care for them will increase their quality overall, help with muscle building, and help make exercise and fitness sustainable by decreasing the chance of injury.