Recover is the June theme of the month at AG Fitness. What are you recovering from on the daily?
A very challenging workday that taxes your brain and intellect? A really tough workout that pushes your body to its limits? An emotional situation that drains your energy while you manage it with grace and poise?
Whatever has you performing at your very best will leave you needing some recovery. Get it!
When it comes to recovery, the trending options are plentiful. From cryotherapy (deep cold immersion), to floating (laying in a deeply salted water tank), to cupping (think Michael Phelps), to massage (ahhhh), and professional stretching.
While these things are great (I’ve done most of them), they require an appointment with an expert and will most likely not be occurring with the same frequency as your taxing activities of daily living.
So, what’s a girl to do?
If we think of those trending recovery approaches as supplements to a daily recovery technique, what can we do on the regular?
Now, I’m talking to you, AG Fitness crew member. You do several classes or training sessions a week. You leave the studio to live an active life that includes being awesome at being you every day.
(If your physical exertion levels exceed those of our typical crew needs, you and I have already talked, and you know what you need to do. Keep going!)
For the rest of us, (me included!), we can follow some general recovery principles.
I work out most days of the week at moderate to vigorous levels and THIS is what I do to recover.
First of all, I eat well because good nutrition is a GREAT recovery tool! When you live this active lifestyle we are referring to, this is what you WON’T need:
- Supplements that promise improved performance or increased recovery.
- Electrolyte solutions.
- A post workout high protein smoothie (unless that is your next meal, in which case, YES!)
- 12 egg whites to wash down (I’m just kidding. But, seriously.)
We sometimes overdo it on the pre and post-recovery fueling when all we need is general good nutrition to support our challenging Strength or HIIT class. The majority of our clients work out for 45-90 minutes a day. This is at a moderate level with bouts of vigorous intensity, but also include a warm-up, cool down, and recovery periods throughout. Due to the nature of our exertion, general nutrition is advised to both support our exercise efforts AND maintain healthy body composition.
So, eat the rainbow at every meal and make sure you get plenty of protein (a minimum of 60-90 grams per day, more for men), healthy carbs full of antioxidants and fiber, and healthy fats.
Why, then, do you hear all about the importance of recovery drinks? I’ll tell you!
A lot of fitness advice trickles down from the body building world and then is embraced by the general fitness world without further investigation. If I’m planning on deadlifting 400 pounds and my goal is to put on 30 pounds of muscle, I most definitely need a high protein recovery drink.
If you’ve had a particularly challenging workout or are experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness, try a small dose of tart cherry juice or beet juice. Both are natural, organic, and a great anti-inflammatory drink to aid in in recovery. Research proves this!
Also, after a very intense exercise session, low intensity steady state cardio (such as a long walk) is great to flush out the system. It improves circulation to the recovering muscle groups without taxing them, speeding up recovery.
A good roll-out session on your foam roller is a great way to promote recovery and keep the myofascial system working optimally. So, roll baby, roll!
Are we good so far?
Ok, now on to the goods I really want to focus on today: My absolute favorite recovery tool of all time. Some experts argue that we have a serious problem in this country from a lack of it.
Let me tell you what happens in your body when you DON’T get it:
1. The signals to your hippocampus (part of your brain where new information and memories are stored) stop registering.
2. 70% reduction in anti-cancer cells, known as Killer Cells.
3. Reduced virility and fertility. (Studies show that men’s testosterone levels are roughly those of men 10 years their senior when lacking in this recovery tool.)
4. Eroding of genetic code. (Studies show that 711 genes are distorted. 50% of those distorted genes INCREASED their expression to more potently fuel tumors and long-term inflammation.)
5. Increased levels of beta amyloid, a toxic protein in your system.
6. 65% increase in the risk of a fatal heart attack.
This does not sound good, does it?
Most of this data comes from Dr. Matt Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at Berkeley. He is the founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science.
Yes, friends. Sleep. Do you get enough??
Dr. Walker has published over 100 scientific papers and he has written the New York Times Bestseller “Why we Sleep”.
Dr. Walker says this:
“Sleep is not an optional lifestyle luxury. Sleep is a non-negotiable biological necessity. It is your life support system.”
Now, before you start stressing out about your lack of sleep, let’s go over some basics and I’ll give you some tips to improve both the quality and duration of your sleep.
1. Get 7-9 hours of sleep every night. Consistency is key. Go to bed and wake up at relatively the same time every day. Don’t indulge in “sleep bulimia” a cycle of bingeing and purging during weekend marathon sleep sessions and 5 hours of running on empty during the week. Oh, and about that sleep bank? Dr Walker says you can’t fully get those lost hours back. -Cue the white noise machine and set an alarm to “GO TO BED”. (No snooze button either.)
2. Keep your room cool. 65 degrees is the magic number for most people.
3. Avoid alcohol. Many people consume alcohol in the hopes of falling asleep faster. However, what is actually happening is something that is not really natural sleep. Alcohol is a sedative. That means that it is "knocking out" the cortex in your brain and inducing a state of sedation. *Not sleep. Additionally, alcohol will wake you up many times during the night and blocks REM sleep. You won’t even realize it though, because you're sedated.
4. Employ good sleep habits such as reducing blue light (buh-bye iPhone) a few hours before sleep, reducing water and caffeine intake before bed, and avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime. DO try meditating, reading a book, getting regular exercise and following a regular “bedtime prep” routine that works for you. Use tools such as eye masks, ear plugs, or dark shades to improve the quality of your sleep by limiting distractions and interruptions.
Proper recovery will allow you to wake up every day energized to live out your very best life. That’s what it’s all about, right?
Hey, go to bed…