We often get told that we must complete exercise every day to help keep the body healthy. But this is just one area of how to help us become healthier. What we need to do is look at health in a holistic approach and look at a variety of areas that is going to help you become healthier. Exercise is number one on the list, as it can improve metabolism, it releases positive endorphins that can improve mental state, it can reduce the chances of lifestyle and chronic health conditions, it gives you more energy and people who exercise sleep better at night.
Another key aspect that will help the body is recovery. The last point above said that people who exercise sleep better at night and sleep is one of the major points of recovery. When exercising, at the right time of day for yourself, can help you fall asleep at night. As mentioned before it reduces stress and can tire you out bolstering your sleep. Exercising at night or afternoon may help reset your sleep wake cycle by raising your body temperature slightly and then dropping it triggering sleepiness. Exercise has shown not only to help you get to sleep but to improve your quality of sleep so you rise feeling rested. This in turn can lower your stress, make you more focused throughout the day and help you be motivated for exercise again.
The second main area of recovery is nutrition. Eating at correct times
1. Helps replenish the muscle and liver glycogen stores. If we don’t replenish these stores future exercise sessions can be compromised, it can also leave you feeling tired and sluggish.
2. Consuming protein assists with muscle repair. During high intensity or prolonged exercise we break down muscle protein, ingestion essential amino acids has shown to help with the muscle building process.
3. Fluid intake helps restore fluid and electrolytes lost in sweat. Fluid loss can lead to dehydration which can make people restless, irritable and fatigued. Dehydration can also lead to a 60% decrease in performance. Drinking 125%-150% of fluid loss during exercise is recommended within 4-6 hours post exercise. In order to rehydrate effectively a drink or food with sodium should be consumed as well. The addition of electrolytes can help the body retain the water consumed.
4. Eating also helps support the immune system to handle the damage. During intensive training the immune system is suppressed and the can continue to affect the efficiency of the immune system for hours afterwards. There has been research that states, if your body has adequate glycogen stores before and after exercise that this can help reduce the disturbance of the immune system. This is because the consumption of carbohydrates can help reduce the bodies stress hormone response to exercise.
The last and as important area of recovery is myofascial release. This practice is most commonly performed by using a foam roller or spikey ball but are not the be all and end all to this. Myofascial release is just a very fancy way of saying self-massage and trigger point release so don’t be scared by it. By completing the exercise you are able to aid the recovery of muscles and help assist them in returning back to normal function. This is a great way to finish off a workout compared to stretching as it won’t put added stress on the tendons that may have just been through a stressful workout. Myofascial release can help release tension with muscles and soft tissue, this allows you to return the body to the full range of motion it had pre exercise. This allows the body to move without comprising natural movement and thus reducing the chance of injury.
Sport and Exercise Scientist
BSpExSc, ESSAM, ASCA Coach
Vision Sports Science