Six tips for exercise recovery

How often do you exercise?

Six keys to exercise recovery for over-60s

How you recover from exercise influences your ability to get the most out of it. Over-60s who recover properly keep doing the sports and exercises they enjoy for longer. 

Just how important is recovery? It’s one way elite athletes separate themselves from the rest of us – elite athletes know they can only keep pushing when they recover properly. The body has a great capacity to heal, and they need to fast-track that healing so they feel better and ready to go again quickly. They take it incredibly seriously to the point of being obsessive.

But recovery isn’t just for elite athletes – anybody wanting to improve their health, fitness and performance will benefit. How to do it? Consider the following seven key points:

1. Proper hydration: You cannot perform well or recover if you are dehydrated. We are 70 per cent fluid, so we need to put in what gets used. A simple way to know your hydration level before and after exercise is to notice the colour of your urine – a straw or clear colour signals you are fine. A darker yellow colour says you are dehydrated.

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Unfortunately, many of us drink excess alcohol, sugary soft drinks, or caffeine-packed energy drinks after exercise, which all reduce hydration

2. Ditch the energy drinks and only consume sports drinks with exercise: Energy drinks do not help recovery. The high concentrations of caffeine give you a short-term boost but may dehydrate you, and does nothing to help your body recover. Excess consumption may also be dangerous to the heart.

Sports drinks provide better hydration because they contain sodium and magnesium that is lost in sweating, so are ideal during or after exercise. But only take when exercising, not as a social drink.

3. Never underestimate good sleep: Sleep is nature’s way of helping our body and mind to recover. Yet there are signs our quality of sleep is deteriorating: The Sleep Health Foundation has found between 33 and 45 per cent of Australians have poor sleep patterns. Improvements in this one area can make a huge difference.

4. Compression garments: Exercise often creates fluid build-up in muscle tissue due to microtrauma. Compression garments help prevent this pooling by providing a mild amount of pressure to the muscles.

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Compression is particularly ideal for the legs since gravity will pool the fluid down to the ankles, creating a “dead end”, and compression helps prevent this. Sleeping in compression garments may help minimise swelling overnight.

4. Hydrotherapy: Hydrotherapy has been around since Ancient Egyptian times, around 5000 years ago, and can be as simple as having a bath. Bathing in warm water relieves tired muscles, joints, and ligaments. Buoyancy decreases the weight of the body and aids recovery through circulation.

Bathing in the sea is also therapeutic and the salt water has many healing qualities.

6. Massage/Physiotherapy: Hands on treatment including massage is one of the fastest ways to recover. Elite athletes use massage on a regular basis. But for the rest of us, a massage weekly or fortnightly will make a positive impact if we are very active – for most of us even a monthly massage will make a difference.

Physiotherapy is crucial to maintain your body and performance, and address injuries or tightness. How to choose the correct therapist for you? Make sure you are seeing results in 3 sessions or less. It means they are on track. If not, get a second opinion.

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