2021: The year of perfecting recovery

As you look toward creating New Year’s resolutions, or simply being healthier in the new year, consider the importance of recovery in achieving your goals.

Jan 1, 2021
Kevin Cota, DPT

2021 recovery

water bottle, apple with weights and sleep mask and alarm

Description: As you look toward creating New Year’s resolutions, or simply being healthier in the new year, consider the importance of recovery in achieving your goals.

We often hear of people who are addicted to working out, exercising too much, or pushing themselves too hard in their work outs. They may be working out seven days a week, two hours a day, pushing themselves to the brink of collapse. They may even be running themselves into the ground. But how do we know enough is enough? Should we always push ourselves harder to achieve desired results in fitness?

As you look toward creating New Year’s resolutions, or simply achieving better health in the new year, consider the importance of recovery. Something as simple as proper sleep, hydration and proper nutrition can allow you to push yourself in your workouts.

Are you taking enough time to recover?

The answer may fall in this statement: There is no such thing as too much exercise, only not enough time spent on recovery! Whether you are spending five hours or twelve hours a week or getting your sweat on, recovery is more vital than you think.

Most people experience the negative side effects of exercise because they do not pay enough attention to recovery. How often do we hear of people getting out the car and heading straight onto the paddle court or golf course? They may not be taking the time to warm up, cool down, or stretch. Balancing out total exercise time and recovery may be the key to longevity in your exercise routine.

What does recovery look like?

Because our bodies need time to heal, regenerate tissue and develop new muscle, the statement “too much exercise is bad thing” may sometimes be true. This can happen if you do not get enough sleep, are dehydrated or do not obtain proper nutrients. It can also result from a lack of stretching, not breathing properly, and not cross training to allow targeted muscle or fuel systems to recover. It is important to focus on different areas of your body on different days. For example, you can alternate leg and arm days to avoid overworking either areas.

Though recovery varies from person to person and there is no perfect balance, but there are commonalities. Ask yourself this: are you doing dedicating any time to recover? For one person, it may be working on flexibility, but meditation or breathing strategies for someone else. Or, maybe it is doing small accessory muscle strengthening exercises. Your physical therapist or personal trainer may prescribe these to support the movements performed during your main sport. But regardless of sport or method of recovery, everyone benefits from proper hydration, nutrition and sleep.

Hydration

A quick hydration tip is to take in at a minimum half your weight in ounces of water per day. So, if you weigh 120 lbs., you should drink a minimum of 60 oz of water a day. On top of that, add 12 oz of water for every 30 minutes of exercise.

What if you sweat a lot during exercise? When we exercise, we sweat and lose weight immediately through sweat in the form of water. Just a 2% loss of body weight from fluid loss in exercise is enough to impair mental and physical performance. To counter this, drink 16 oz of water for every pound you lose during your work out within two hours of completion.

Nutrition

Diet is vital and varies depending on gender, age, body type and sport. But at the end of the day, you still are what you eat. Taking in a healthy balance of protein, fats and carbs will fuel your body, for both exercise and recovery. However, different forms of exercise require a different mix of the three to maintain optimal health. If you need help figuring out what the best nutrition plan is for you, we recommend working with a nutritionist.

Sleep

You may ask, should you trade a late-night or early morning exercise session at the expense of a proper night’s sleep? Likely not! Poor quality or a lack of sleep negatively affects almost all body systems. Your body needs sleep to repair all organ systems. By depriving your body of this valuable repair time, you negatively impact your exercise, mental health, weight loss, and fitness goals.

But an adequate balance between sleep and waking time is vital. An active lifestyle and exercising consistently is often the easiest and most natural way to improve sleep patterns. The takeaway? Make sleep your number one priority as a recovery tool and get your eight hours more often than not. If you are exercising at a harder intensity or more frequently, plan on getting more sleep than normal. You can refer to the Sleep Foundation’s recommendations for sleep times here.

Looking to the stars

If you’ve been watching or reading the news, you may have seen stories of celebrity athletes spending a lot on recovery. Athletes like Tom Brady, LeBron James and Russell Wilson are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly on physical therapy, training, massage, Pilates, cryotherapy, compression therapy and private nutritionists. But though these tools seem only accessible to them, they are actually available to you, right in your backyard.

More and more are these athletes looking for a massage therapist to help your muscles recover. They understand the importance of maintaining muscle health, and removing toxins from over-worked tissue. and they understand that a massage will not do the trick by itself. That is why they seek a holistic approach to their recovery through nutrition, physical therapy, core strengthening exercises, and more. As they take control over their recovery regimens, they will become even more successful in their fields.

It’s obvious: 2021 is the year of recovery. They know it, and now you do too.

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