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Why time to recover is so important








We talk a lot on this channel about exercise and fitness. What sometimes gets forgotten is how to recover after an intense period of exercise activity.

A fundamental of fitness

Giving your body time to recover is one of the fundamentals of staying fit and injury free. The temptation is to keep going and ignore your body’s increasingly loud protests but this is one way to sustain repetitive strain injuries or to turn a niggle into something more serious and long-term.

Before we delve into how to recover, let’s take a quick look at why we need to give our bodies time to relax.

Recover to get fitter






Whenever we do exercise we are challenging our body. In truth, exercise hurts the body, prompting a reaction. As you put stress on your muscles and systems, so that acts as a challenge to the body to adapt to meet that stress. That is why exercise makes us fitter, stronger, more efficient. Incidentally, it is also why we need to vary our exercise – in effect, we need to keep the body guessing.

But, the need to recover takes no guesswork. When we overdo it, the body sends us strong signals. Aching muscles, tiredness, irritability, inability to sleep, lowered sex drive – it can even cause weight gain. By giving your body adequate time to recover, you also give the muscle fibres time to not just repair, but to strengthen and grow.

Here are some tips to help your body recover from intense exercise.

Structure your rest periods to recover well

How you incorporate rest is a personal thing. You might find two days of consecutive tough exercise is enough and you need to rest on the third day. Science would suggest the most effective programme however, is three days of workout, followed by one day of rest and recovery. Add into your long-term schedule a week of down-time after every 10-12 weeks of intense training.

Avoid alcohol

The temptation to go to the pub after a workout is compelling but remember that alcohol is a toxin that your body has to deal with. Those toxins become the body’s priority so it can’t direct so much attention to helping the muscles recover. Staying clear of alcohol during your rest time will help speed up your recovery.

Stay hydrated

While alcohol might be off-limits, drinking plenty of water definitely isn’t. It is vitally important to replace fluids after exercise. You should aim for a daily intake of two litres, and increase that if you have been sweating profusely during a workout.

Stretch to recover






The importance of stretching cannot be over-emphasised. You might stretch briefly before and after a training session but adding stretching, yoga or pilates into your recovery time is a great way to give the muscles a little more love and care. Avoid strenuous yoga or pilates as this might impair the recovery process, keep it gentle.

Eat well

Weights and fruit






Good nutrition is as important to your health as exercise. Make sure your calorific intake matches your output but also be aware of what you are eating. Make sure you are getting enough protein to speed up muscle repair and enough carbohydrates to provide you with sufficient energy. Also, pay attention to the vitamins and minerals your diet provides for you. Click here for online health expert Healthline’s advice on essential vitamins and minerals our bodies need.

Listen to your body

Our bodies are constantly sending us messages so it is important we learn to listen. It might be telling you that you need more rest, more water or a more positive mind-set. The way you react is referred to as ‘instinctive training’. If we learn to respond to our own needs then we will get much more out of our workouts.