Last week, the weekly focus* here at SiSU was the importance of recovery. When most people hear the word recovery, they immediately think about recovering from an injury or illness. The truth is though, that the activities we do every day, each use up energy, and stress our bodies in a number of different ways. The impact from these every day stressors requires recovery too! There are a number of ways we can assist our bodies to recover well and ensure we’re always at our best.
Our body repairs itself from the actives of the day when we go to sleep each night. While we sleep, a few key things happen to our body which aid in recovery:
- Everything slows down! From our heart beat to our breathing rate, our muscle activity to our brain, when we sleep everything slows down. This gives our body a bit of a break from working so hard all day.
- The repair hormones get to work! The Human Growth Hormone, or HGH, is responsible for a number of things including growth and cell repair. It it also known to boost muscle growth, strength and exercise performance. Not enough HGH may decrease your quality of life and increase your risk of disease. HGH is released primarily at night time when you sleep, and mainly BEFORE midnight. So getting a few hours of sleep before midnight is crucial to make sure you’re getting enough of this super important repair hormone.
Eating enough of the right foods is important in recovery. To repair our bodies and replenish what has been lost throughout the day with exercise and/or activity, we need to make sure our food contains a good variety of all the nutrients we need to keep functioning well. This includes both our main food groups such as carbohydrates, protein and fat, as well as nutrients such as magnesium, zinc, calcium, iron etc. With a well balanced diet you should get all the nutrients you need from your food, however some people may need to supplement. It is important you talk to your health practitioner before self medicating with supplements.
When we exercise we lose fluid from our body through sweat. This is amplified when the weather is hot and humid ( aka Brisbane ALL year round! ). However, water isn’t the only thing we lose. We also lose nutrients from our body, such as sodium ( salt ) and potassium. Being well hydrated helps our body function better. Water in the body helps to remove toxins, as well as distribute energy and nutrients around the body to where it is needed.
Generally speaking, drinking plain water is the best way to stay hydrated. You want to make sure you’re drinking water slowly throughout the day as well as increasing your intake before, during and after any type of activity that makes you sweat. This includes both exercise but also activities like gardening or manual labour.
Sometimes though, plain water isn’t enough. If you become dehydrated or if you’re doing long workouts or extreme activity, your body requires both the water and the nutrients lost through sweat. We call these electrolytes and they generally include sodium (salt), potassium, magnesium as well as glucose (sugar). These can be found in drinks such as Hydralyte and some sports drinks such as FitAid.
Most of us think of a rest day as sitting on the couch, watching movies or reading a good book. And while sometimes that is exactly what our bodies need, it isn’t always the best type of rest. We like to talk about relative rest. Relative rest takes into consideration what your body needs, is capable of doing and has done in the last week or so.
A rest day should be something significantly lower-key than what you have been doing for your exercise days. So if you normally do CrossFit 6 days per week, a relative rest day might include a Yoga class or a bike ride with the kids on the weekend. If you normally run 3 days a week, your rest day might be a light stretch at home or a walk with friends. If you’re new to exercise a rest day might include more passive relative rest like a remedial massage.
So we encourage you to think about how you’re helping your body recover, not only after an exercise session but day to day as well.
Have a question? Reach out to us at email@example.com, we’re always happy to help!
* Each week at SiSU we have a weekly focus Importance of recovery SiSU Blog stemming from one of our three pillars; Fitness, Rehab and Wellness. We use this as an opportunity to talk to our members about important aspects of health and wellness. We usually chat about our weekly focus during our classes and on our social media, with tips and tricks on how to bring our weekly focus into your day.