Exercise and Recovery
If you’ve read the blog post on Exercise and Mental Health you’ll be in no doubt as to the benefits of exercise for psychological well being. However, it is important to remember that exercise is a stressor and it is possible to over-do it. The symptoms of over-training include:
- heavy legs
- sleep problems and fatigue
- increased susceptibility to colds and infections
- slow healing
- excess weight loss and loss of muscle
- food cravings
If over-training continues over-training syndrome can set in with symptoms of extreme fatigue, insomnia, weight gain, depression and decreased performance.
During exercise muscles are damaged. It is when the body is at rest that the muscles repair the damage done during exercise and rebuild themselves so they are stronger than before. Evidence supports the recommendation to rest for at least 24 hours between workouts to help the body adapt and recuperate.
It’s also advisable to leave 48 hours before exercising the same muscle groups again.
Active rest can also be beneficial. This incorporates gentle activities such as walking and stretching on the days between intense training.
Time to Replenish
The hours just after exercise are thought to be important for muscle recovery and regrowth. During this time it’s important to replenish the fluids, protein and carbohydrates used up during exercise.
It may take 24 hours to fully replace muscle glycogen – the storage form of carbohydrates in muscles. This is needed for maintaining stable blood sugar levels and for muscle strength.
It may take several hours to fully hydrate after exercise as fluids are lost through sweat, breathing and urination.
Getting sufficient good quality sleep is vital for exercise performance and stamina as well as for cognitive function.
The following supplements may help with various aspects of exercise and recovery.
Antioxidants – including vitamin C, vitamin E, bioflavanoids, quercetin and coenzyme Q10 can be taken to minimise the free radical damage caused by exercise. This helps reduce muscle fatigue, inflammation and soreness and speeds recovery time.
Beetroot juice – dilates blood vessels, reduces oxygen use and improves energy production. May improve athletic performance.
Ginseng – used as a tonic in Traditional Chinese Medicine to improve stamina and vitality.
Maca – may improve exercise endurance and performance.
Omega 3 oils – reduce inflammation and help lubricate the joints.
Sour cherry juice – contains phytochemicals that may reduce pain and inflammation thus aiding exercise recovery.
ZMA – a combination of magnesium, zinc and B6 which is thought to boost muscle growth and strength and improve endurance, recovery and sleep quality.
When it comes to repairing tissues, building skeletal muscle and restoring fuel reserves the importance of rest and replenishment cannot be overstated.
See blog post Walking for Wellness for information about the benefits of walking and how to incorporate it into your life.