Why is recovery important after exercise?

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S.A.C. Dip (Diet, Exercise & Fitness), Advanced Human Anatomy & Physiology Level 3
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31 January 2019

The importance of recovery after exercise

Did you know that allowing your body to recover fully after a session of intense exercise can actually improve fitness? I bet there will be many more sports enthusiasts open to the idea of including it in there regime with this knowledge!

In order to improve their fitness and performance, athletes focus on the overload principle. This is the idea that the body adjusts to a workout the more you do it and so in order to improve physically, the workout must continuously be made harder. 

Incorporated into this theory however, is a period of recovery after exercise. This gives the body time to recover and adapt and, as a result, it comes back fitter, stronger and ready to improve on the previous performance. 

So, an effective recovery strategy can help you make training gains but what happens if you fail to do this?

What happens if you don’t rest after a workout?

Exercise puts the body under a degree of stress which can cause Exercise-Induced Muscle Damage (EIMD). Muscle pain after a workout (Delayed Onset Muscle Syndrome – DOMS) is a symptom of EIMD, though other problems include reduced muscle strength, reduced range of motion and swelling in the muscles. 

These issues are temporary but they require a period of recovery in order to heal completely. If you should move onto your next training session without allowing for this recovery then, not only do you risk making the symptoms of EIMD worse, you won’t be able to perform at your best either. 

Overtraining and burnout can also occur when an individual trains repeatedly whilst still feeling fatigued from a previous session. 

Recovery strategies

Professional athletes use a variety of recovery strategies including ice baths, heat pads, massage, compression garments and careful nutrition plans. Whilst these may not be appropriate for the average gym-goer, there are a number of other recovery strategies that can be applied at home:

  • Relaxation techniques – deep breathing and calming activities such as reading are just some of the relaxation techniques you can do at home
  • Stretching – warm up and cool down with some slow stretches. You can also do these in the days after exercise to ease sore muscles
  • Sleep – get the recommended 7-9 hours a night
  • Water – stay hydrated
  • A warm bath – this has a relaxing effect on the muscles so should help to ease any sore or stiff muscles after a workout.

How often should I work out?

How much you exercise really depends on the intensity of your workout. An intense activity such as running, for example, needn’t be done as often as a low impact sport such as walking. 

In general, your week should include a strength exercise (a weights session, for example, or a go on the cross trainer) alongside an aerobic activity (swimming, brisk walking, cycling). Each should be done at least once a week and, if possible, twice – you could start with one and add more as you get fitter and more confident with the activity. 

An hour each time should be sufficient, though if you can only manage 30 minutes then don’t worry. As I mentioned earlier in the blog, we get fitter the more we exercise so you’ll soon find a 60 minute workout easy peasy!

Additional post-workout support

A good post-workout routine will probably involve, first and foremost, a shower, followed by plenty of water and a healthy snack – bananas, cereal bars and smoothies are all great choices here. If you want to make your post-workout routine even better however, then I’d recommend you also try our Balance Mineral Drink

We lose vitamins, minerals and energy through exercise which need to be replaced fairly quickly. Balance helps with this as it provides a healthy dose of calcium, zinc, potassium and vitamin D. As well as this, it contains 112.5mg of magnesium and since this mineral can help with aches and pains, it is a useful addition post-workout.

Another great thing about Balance is that it helps to fight tiredness and fatigue so, if your workout leaves you feeling a little weary, a glass of this natural strawberry-flavoured drink could provide the perfect pick-me-up!

My Top Tip:

Pour one sachet of Balance Mineral Drink into a glass containing 150ml of water or milk and then stir well. The drink has a natural strawberry flavour so is both refreshing and tasty!

“This is just what I needed after the gym, I find those shakes too thick but this was very refreshing.”


Read what other people are saying about Balance Mineral Drink.

Key points:

  • A proper programme of recovery can actually improve fitness so is an important part of training
  • Demanding activities can cause exercise-induced muscle damage, a symptom of which is delayed onset muscle damage
  • Fatigue, maladaptation and poor performance occur when the body does not get a sufficient recovery period
  • The recovery process speeds up healing and prepares the body for its next workout
  • Balance Mineral Drink helps replenish the body’s vitamin and mineral levels after exercise and also helps fight tiredness and fatigue
  • A good weekly workout should incorporate a mix of aerobic and strength activities, as well as sufficient recovery periods too. 

A.Vogel Atrogel Muscle Aches & Pains


£ 8.99

Arnica gel for relief of muscle pains, stiffness, sprains and bruising. 100ml size available.
More info

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