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You’re dripping with sweat after an intense but oh-so-good cycling sesh, and you can’t help but daydream about driving home, plopping down on the couch and finishing your latest Netflix binge. Hey, you’ve earned it! But before any of that happens, you need to check a few boxes. Ahead, three reasons why your post-workout routine is as crucial as the workout itself.

woman stretching in gym
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Reason 1: Your Body Needs to Cool Down

You don’t go into a workout without doing some sort of warm-up, right? The same logic should be applied to cooling down. After exercising, your heart is beating faster than normal and your body temperature is higher, so if you stop too abruptly, you have a greater risk of feeling dizzy or even fainting. To combat those unwanted side effects, gradually bring your heart rate down by keeping up your activity, just at a slower pace. Complete your cooldown by gently stretching your muscles to help prevent cramping or stiffness.

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Reason 2: Your Body Needs to be Refueled

After a tough workout, your body looks for electrolytes and vitamins (among other nutrients) to help replenish and rebuild muscle. The key is to get it within 30 minutes. Make it easy on yourself by packing a 5.5-ounce can of V8 in your gym bag. With no added sugar and as much potassium as a small banana, this drink will leave you feeling refreshed and satisfied (and not wanting to eat a whole sleeve of cookies).

woman resting after workout
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Reason 3: Your Body Needs Rest and Recovery

Rest and recovery days are essential for any athlete, from beginner to pro, because muscles need time to repair and rebuild after a workout. Depending on how hard you train, your body needs at least a day or two of rest. (And don’t forget to get at least seven hours of sleep.)

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