Cool Down: Let the heart rate come down slowly. If you are doing cardio and you suddenly stop running and just jump off the treadmill, you could experience what is called “blood-pooling.” This is when the blood stays in the extremities (arms and legs), therefore diminishing oxygen to the brain. This is when you may feel light headed, or faint even to the point of passing out.
Stretch: When you work a muscle it contracts or shortens. Stretching a muscle afterwards, allows it to return to its natural resting length. Stretching a muscle for 20 seconds or more will help improve flexibility. Less than 20 seconds and you will simply help to relax the muscle. It is advisable to have a t least one intense stretching session per week, on regular a basis. The most efficient way to do that is to take a class, as the instructor will ensure that all muscles are fully stretched, enabling you to workout better next time, as stretching also aids in recovery. Yoga and Pilates are both excellent ways of giving the whole body the stretch and nourishment it deserves.
Drink Water: You should be drinking before, during and after exercise. Drinking water during exercise keeps you hydrated while you workout. Once you have finished, you should drink 2-3 glasses of water within 2 hours. Then keep drinking water steadily, that way you top up any lost fluids. Do not think that thirst is an indication it’s time to drink; thirst means you are already dehydrated and it may take as long as 48 hours to replenish those fluids.
Eat! You should be getting a balanced meal within 90 minutes of finishing your workout. Those who are looking to increase muscle mass may wish to wait 60 minutes before starting to eat, as research shows that the increase in insulin that happens when you eat, may interfere with the growth hormone. Whenever you decide to eat, ensure you get a balance between carbohydrates, protein and fat. Carbohydrates stock up on glycogen (needed to help muscle contraction), protein helps with growth and repair and fat helps transport the necessary vitamins around the body.