Simple Strategies to Help You Recover Faster (Naturally)
Okay ladies, one of the things I hear a lot from my perimenopause and personal training clients is that after turning 40+ it takes longer to recover after a hard workout or long run then it did just a few years ago.
How many of you would agree?
Let’s face it, none of us are getting any younger. Once you cross 40 and beyond you begin to notice some small (and some BIGGER) changes happening with regard to our overall health and feelings of wellness.
We get tired faster. Workouts are harder, weights feel heavier, and the soreness lasts longer. Recovery is measured in days, not hours. It’s harder and harder to lose weight, and easier to gain it. Our sleeping patterns change and so does our sex drive. Welcome to midlife!!
Today I’d like to zero in on some of the major health challenges we're faced with after 40.
This isn’t to make you feel bad or guilt or to dislike getting older. Rather, I want you to understand what you’re up against and how you can get back on track. Because YES, while you can't control everything that comes with age, you can definitely steer it in the right direction!
When you’re in your twenties and thirties you don’t have to be as careful when you workout. It’s a little easier to do a crazy amount of exercises for each muscle group, higher reps, higher sets, or tackle a long run without hesitation. And you may not have had to worry about what to do after a workout. Post workout recovery was probably one of the last things on your mind.
When you’re young you can afford to go BIG!! However, as we age we need to be much more careful. Much more mindful on how we program our weekly workouts and how we spend time recovering from them.
And let's be honest, we need to maximum results with minimum time invested. It’s not just because we lead busy lives and can’t spend hours in the gym. It’s because every workout represents a certain amount of wear and tear on the body. It makes no sense to speed up the depletion by performing more exercise, more reps, or conquering more miles than necessary to achieve our goals.
Not only is it important that we are smart about HOW we workout, we need to be even smarter about how we RECOVER from a workout!!
In your mid-40s, your workouts start to take more of a toll on your body and recovering after your workout isn’t what it used to be. You may be sore longer. You may be stiff. You may feel tired quicker.
Our aging body doesn’t respond to exercise like it did just a few years ago. Fatigue, muscle and joint aches, and increased injuries seem to happen with greater frequency as we age.
I promise, it’s not your imagination and you are definitely not alone in feeling that things that were "easy" a few years ago seem a lot more challenging. It happens to the best of us as a natural consequence of aging. To help you feel stronger and faster, you need to first take a look at HOW you are setting yourself up before your next workout, specifically how is your recovery ensuring you will be ready to go again?
After 45 you’ll need to make a few tweaks to your post workout routine to ensure you’re not over-training and that you are giving your body the TLC it needs in between sweat sessions.
6 Ways to Recover Naturally
Reduce Exercise Time - Instead of an hours-long gym session, cut your workout time down to 30-45 minutes. To ensure that you are rocking a great workout - focus on programing (ie number of sets, reps, size of weights, and quality form). Make sure your weekly workout plan includes adequate cardio endurance, strength training, balance work, flexibility work, and time for stretching and/or foam rolling. You may notice a longer warm up and cool down are needed as you get older. Don't rush right into the main workout. If you want to stay injury free (and make fitness progress) make sure you are properly warmed up from head to toe.
Focus on Macronutrients - Eat to replenish after a workout and throughout the day. Ensure you’re getting the right ratio of carbs to protein to fat for your diet and fitness goals. As we age, nutrition plays an even greater role in our ability to metabolize and recover. Decreasing carbs in a controlled and supervised way is especially important for those with insulin resistance or metabolic disorders.
Add More Recovery Days - I used to workout 5-6 days per week. Now, it’s every other day to ensure I get a day to properly recover from my workouts. If you really want to be as efficient with your exercise time, you’ll need to have a personalized plan. You can’t just guess on your own. On off days, do yoga or foam rolling to stretch your muscles, helping to further recovery Please understand that "off days" are not inactive days - on the contrary they are days you take it down a notch. Instead of along run opt for an easy walk. Instead of a HIIT workout slow it down with some body weight moves combined with a little yoga.
Eat and Drink Natural Anti-inflammatories - A potent natural anti-inflammatory is turmeric. Fruits high in antioxidants and flavonoids like blueberries and cherries are great natural anti-inflammatories as well. Add some frozen blueberries to your post workout protein shake for a little added recovery bonus.
Consider Adding Supplements - There are a wide range of supplements with high bioavailability that can help improve circulation, metabolism, and reduce inflammation. As our cellular functions begin their natural decline, supplements play an increasingly important role in extending our functionality. It’s best to consult and integrative physician or naturopath to make sure you choose exactly what is right for you.
Plenty of Rest is Essential - Be sure to engage in relaxation via mediation, yoga and mindfulness. For faster recovery and optimal health, go to bed early to get more sleep and drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. The use of fitness tracking apps like Fitbit can help you monitor the quality of sleep to make sure you are getting the full benefit of your resting recovery time.
So, I'd love to hear from you . . . What's your biggest struggle - the actual workout being harder or needing longer recovery time between workouts?