How To Prolong Post-Workout Benefits

by Isadora Baum, CHC

Having a great workout is always an awesome insertion into a busy day; however, it's even sweeter when that burn and happiness rush can last for hours after you've stretched and showered. While there are many benefits to making time for a sweat session, long-lasting results are really where you see the greatest impact on the day. Thus, finding ways to prolong endorphins and burn after exercising can lead to greater mood, productivity levels and energy for the rest of the day.

As a certified health coach, I work with clients on fitting exercise into their schedules, setting dates on the calendar to follow through, and finding forms of activity that brings them joy and results. Aiming for consistency is key, but also maximizing the benefits and long-term success can help you feel even more accomplished and empowered by exercise. Once you have found a workout (or a few!) that make you feel excited, strong and eager to do it all over again the next day, you can then focus on using your session to your advantage by prolonging the effects to carryover into your ability to function and be successful at work. By understanding which habits, foods, and lifestyle techniques can lead to longer benefits, you'll be able to reap the rewards for hours. Use these eleven ways to boost your endorphin rush and burn following a workout.

1. Drink Lots Of Water

After a grueling and sweaty session, your body is depleted of fluids, and it must re-hydrate immediately to get back to balance. "If someone is exhausted after a class or training I'd remind them to drink lots of water and rest," says Tara Stiles, Reebok yoga expert and founder of Strala Yoga in NYC, over email with Bustle. By replenishing lost stores, you can keep your mood happy and your mind clear and alert.

2. Don't Eat Processed Foods After The Workout

Following a workout, you might be thinking that a juicy hamburger or a cookie sound delicious (and of course, they can be!); however, eating processed, greasy and sugary foods post-workout can get rid of your happiness and after-burn, leading instead to a crash and influx of unwanted calories, sodium and unhealthy fats. "Avoid processed foods always. Eating natural foods is great always for so many reasons, and after a big session, it is nicer for energy levels and recovery to eat something simple and natural," advises Stiles.

3. Eat Healthy Fats Post-Workout

Healthy fats can boost serotonin, which elicits a happy response in our brains, and reduce inflammation post-workout. Eating these foods can enhance after-burn and endorphin effects, and many healthy fats are also a great source of protein, a macronutrient that is vital post-workout. "A few of my favorites include an avocado, guacamole or hummus with veggies, raw nuts with fruit, or almond butter on celery sticks," advises Reebok expert Tyson Chartier, with SITYODTONG, over email with Bustle.

4. Avoid Sugary Beverages & Caffeine

Your endorphin rush and metabolic burn post-workout are enough to keep you energized and productive if paired with nutritious whole foods that promote anti-inflammation, metabolic processes and mood-boosting properties. Having sugary drinks and caffeine can hinder these effects. "Drinks that contain a lot of sugar or caffeine can make you feel like you have a quick burst of energy, but may just as quickly make you experience an energy crash. It’s better to stick with water or water with fresh lemon juice in it," says Chartier.

5. Pay Attention To How You Feel When Exercising

By paying attention to how your mind and body feel during a workout, advises Stiles, you'll be able to take those feelings and emotions and channel them into the rest of your daily tasks. If you feel liberated, relaxed, or energized when working out, use those vibes to go about the rest of your day and continue to reap those awesome, feel-good benefits. You have the power to prolong your happiness outside the gym.

6. Do High Intensity Workouts

According to experts, doing high-intensity workouts can boost after-burn effects and rev the metabolism better than more moderate, steady exercise can. By choosing a HIIT, Tabata or other interval training class, where you are doing several sprints of different movements in a short period of time, interchanged with bouts of rest, you'll be able to reap more benefits for hours following the training session.

7. Eat Adequate Protein

Following a workout, eating between twenty and thirty grams of protein is critical for keeping the metabolism high, as protein raises the metabolism more than carbohydrates or fat can. Protein will also keep your mood stable, and if it's in a happier state, it's more likely to remain there. Experts say that whey protein touts great benefits; however, if you cannot tolerate whey, which is best in a recovery smoothie, you can have pea or meat-based protein instead.

8. Include Strength Training

Doing mere cardio will not build as much muscle or allow for much after-burn effect as a strength training session will. By using weights, you can maximize the effects for hours to follow. Combining strength moves and cardio into one exercise is the best option; however, if you love running or doing the elliptical too much, pair it with a few weight training moves to follow.

9. Keep Stress Levels Low

While this might be challenging at times, arriving at the office post-workout and allowing stress to consume your mind can immediately get rid of those happy endorphins and slow the metabolism. A rise in cortisol can promote inflammation and reduce those feel-good hormones and metabolic effects. If you experience a stressful assignment, focus on calming yourself and problem solving in order to keep your mood stable and productivity high.

10. Eat Potassium-Rich Foods

Eating potassium can help re-balance electrolytes that were depleted post-workout, and potassium has been found to boost serotonin, the happiness-promoting, hormones, within the body, as well as prevent lethargy (which can happen after training!), brain fog and depression. Eating a banana with some nut butter would make for an ideal recovery snack. You can also eat leafy greens, avocados, Greek yogurt and beans.

11. Make It A Habit

While you might experience great benefits following a single session, the greatest way to prolong the after-burn and endorphin boost is to keep activity consistent over time. Experts suggest that these exercise benefits can occur even on days that you do not exercise, if your body is prone to building more muscle overtime. Thus, if your body gets into the habit of exercising, you will be able to enjoy such benefits for additional hours in the day.

No matter what exercise you choose, by aiming for spurts of intensity, the proper fuel and much needed rest and hydration, you'll be able to feel happier for hours following the workout. Creating a regular routine is the best way to reap these benefits on a daily basis and to raise your metabolism and mood. So, find something that works for you, and start to move!

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