In an era of self-prescription, fitness mantras are the ones most commonly passed around.
Some of these can be misleading, passed on by fly-by-night “fitness experts” who have obtained certificates dished out indiscriminately to those looking to make a career in this field.
Even well-established names in the fitness field succumb to this temptation of churning out “experts” in a field where learning can never really stop, and one needs to constantly upgrade one’s skills.
Yesterday’s health fact can be challenged by research today, and unless you keep abreast, you could make serious errors of judgment while working out.
Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, sounds the alert on post-workout mistakes that you should avoid.
In gyms, those who are obese are often pushed into the sauna as a way of losing weight passively after a work-out.
This can be outright fatal in certain cases. You cannot combine all weight loss efforts into one back-to-back package!
Losing weight in a sustained fashion means a lifestyle overhaul. Trying to speed it up with a post-workout sauna is not the way.
You can have the sauna after a massage if it is recommended by an expert.
The sauna is not for everybody. It must be carefully prescribed in cases where there is a tendency for blood sugar and blood pressure shifts.
The body’s salt balance is severely affected by a work-out; a sauna affects it further.
It could be an excessive overload of challenges for the body to suddenly cope with, and could have disastrous results.
If you have to rush to work immediately after a morning work-out, it is tempting to have a bath before you dash out.
But try and aim for a 20-minute to half-hour break between work-out and a shower.
This is important because your sweat contains trace elements and nutrients that are precious. Most of us never have enough of these as they are created by the body in miniscule quantities.
If you allow the sweat to dry off naturally (use those fancy gym towels sparingly and only to stop sweat from running into your eyes) it gets re-absorbed by the body.
Having a bath immediately after a work-out interferes with this re-absorption.
If you are a regular work-out freak, this is even more important because some of these nutrient losses can cause cramps, affect joint health and deplete calcium.
If you have a proper work-out that takes care of different aspects of training you are more likely to eat moderately (because you will not feel too hungry, unless it is a pure aerobic challenge).
If your work-out makes you very hungry it may be time to shift focus and do something else.
Even a bar of chocolate may feel too sweet if your work-out has been good because the high that comes from it heightens all the senses, giving a signal that puts off consumption of excessive calorie-rich foods.
Post work-out, even if you are ravenous, it is good to have a planned meal that accommodates all nutrient needs, especially a good proportion of protein.
This is crucial because protein is involved in tissue repair and that is what the body needs to do after any work-out.
In fact, your highest protein consumption should be immediately after a work-out, to help you remain young (otherwise the work-out may end up aging you and making you look frowzy) and fit (joints, muscles need the proteins to heal).
Gyms often do not have the space or inclination to provide for a cool down.
Hectic lifestyles, with the gym squeezed in between other tasks, also leads to skipping the cooling down period
A regular cool down requires you to be still for at least five minutes immediately after any hard-core work-out.
Any work we do, including exercise, creates a build up of lactic acid in the blood. The blood lactate levels are talking directly to your adrenal glands, which are your stress glands, keeping the stress hormones on a spike.
This may explain why a lot of macho-looking men end up with anger control issues! If you do not cool down after a work-out, you could end up in anger management classes or suffer the other side of stress hormones – extreme anxiety!
Don’t dispense with the final stretches. The last few minutes spent in stretching may actually power the rest of your day, and even the day after.
This is because the post-workout stretches release stiffness and soreness.
If you give them a miss, it is likely that when you return to your work-out you will feel stiffer than before.
Part of the impact comes from what we mentioned above, the blood lactate levels being eased gently out of the body.
The stretches also create red muscle fibre – the endurance and repairing muscle – and may help you heal faster in the long-term.