Recovery tends to be the most overlooked part of exercise programmes. Without proper recovery you could simply be wasting your time and potentially be doing more harm than good. Exercise tends to shred your muscle fibres, joints and other connective tissues so without correct recovery you can start to see your progress in the gym heading backwards rather than forwards. Here are some tips on recovery - the Yin to the Yang !

  1. Research has shown that getting to bed on time and getting 8 hours of sleep can balance your body and your hormones allowing you to increase your metabolism and thus your thyroid activity, recover quicker from exercise and/or injury, fight off infection, burn more fat, improve performance at work and in the gym and to have more energy throughout your day.
  2. Ideally, our daily activity levels should mimic those of our hunter-gatherer ancestors - we should be most active in the morning. Winding down as the day goes on and relaxing in the evening
  3. Be aware of your circadian rhythm (24 hour cycle). Our hormonal system is hardwired into the movement of the sun and the moon and therefore we must be most active when we release ‘get-up and go’ hormones (morning) and more rested when we release ‘build and repair’ hormones (evening).
  4. As the sun goes down, our bodies should begin to activate the parasympathetic nervous system, increasing the immune systems activity in order to repair the physiological damage caused from the day, releasing melatonin (sleep hormone) and reducing cortisol levels. The body should then start to physically (between 10pm and 2am) and psychologically (between 2am and 6am) fix, rebuild and improve itself
  5. When the sun rises again, we activate the sympathetic nervous system, release seratonin (‘get up and go’ hormone) and increase cortisol levels. The body starts to ‘metabolise’ quicker and the heart rate increases in preparation for movement and activity.
  6. Ideally we should sleep when the sun goes down and wake when it rises. Realistically, we should at least avoid stressful situations and strong stimulants such as bright lights when it gets dark outside. Try lighting some candles instead of using artificial lights after sunset for a more restful nights sleep.
  7. Try to be in bed by 10.30 and awake by 6.30 ensuring at least 8 hours of sleep.
  8. A lack of sleep disrupts your hormone balance and can cause over-activation of the sympathetic nervous system and an excess of the catabolic hormone cortisol whilst suppressing the parasympathetic nervous system and therefore reducing the amount of growth hormone, testosterone and sex hormones that are essential for muscle repair and regeneration.
  9. Avoid raising your cortisol levels in the evening to maximise recovery by avoiding stimulants such as bright lights, TV watching (especially stressful programmes), caffeine and sugar in the evening
  10. Take regular breaks throughout the day and make time to relax in the evening. Work hard – rest hard. Try some yoga, stretching, tai chi, breathing exercises or meditation to relax the mind-body in the evening and prepare your body for a good nights sleep
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