While everyone understands the importance of a warm-up routine prior to exercising, not many people give the same focus to their post-exercise time. Practices such as warm-downs, appropriate food intake and bike preparation go a long way to creating a beneficial routine that detoxes and disconnects yourself from the strenuous exercise you’ve just been doing!
A crucial part of a post-cycling routine is a warm-down. Just as important as a warm-up, a warm-down relaxes the body and helps with muscle recovery following on from cycling (which is an exercise that uses most of the muscles in the body anyway!). Slowly letting your body calm down from the exhilarating work you’ve put it through can prevent muscle strains among other injuries or pulls.
A warm-down can be anything from stretching to sleeping, just as long as you’re allowing your body to ease into its natural state with a relaxed mindset; warm-downs are just as good for your mental state as it is your physical state too. Basically, after a long exercise you deserve a rest so learn how to switch off!
Exercising is all about burning stored energy. We gain energy by eating food. Seems obvious, right? We need to eat more food to replace the energy we’ve just used up! Proteins, fruits and vegetables all contain plenty of nutrients such as fibre that helps with digestion, carbohydrates keep your stomach full and plenty of other goodness that can be found in fruit and veg.
Eating prior to exercising is just as important as doing so after - treat eating as refilling a petrol tank; you’d refuel prior to a long journey to ensure you had enough in the tank to get to your destination and back, and then you’d also refuel afterwards to get back to your normal levels.
Picture the scene: you wake up, the sun is shining, there’s a slight breeze in the air and it’s perfect conditions for a nice bike ride - but you go to put on your cycling clothes just to remember they’re still in the wash bin from the other day. By the time they’ve gone through the washing machine and the tumble dryer, you’ll have settled down in front of the TV and gotten comfy, and we all know getting comfy means no exercise!
If you’re looking to cycle on a regular basis then you need to get into a routine of making sure everything you need the next time you go cycling is ready for you. If your gear is ready for you when you want to use it, you have no excuses to slack off and you’re more likely to commit to your exercise routines!
Similarly to preparing your gear for your next ride, you need to take care of your bike regularly too; for example, if you’ve just come home from riding in a muddy or wet environment, give it a wash! Before settling down and relaxing, giving your bike a quick hose down and scrub ensures it remains in peak condition appearance-wise for the next time you head out, as well as avoiding any long term damage in the form of dried mud or paint scratches.
As well as this, ensuring your bike is put away properly and locked up in a secure location such as a garage or shed will give you the peace of mind knowing that it’s safe, and while it might be quicker to dump it outside and rush inside for a shower, take the time to lock it up! You’ll be wishing you had if something happened to it!
A long and heavy exercise session is tiring work, so why not rejuvenate yourself with a quick nap? If you’ve got other things planned for the rest of the day then you need to rest up and get your energy back, and a power nap is the perfect way to get a quick boost of energy back after your workout and will prevent your tiredness from getting the better of you later in the day when you need more energy!
Sleeping doesn’t have to just be for the night, it’s healthy to keep topped up with your sleep levels if and when you need to. If you’re feeling particularly exhausted following your cycling session then there’s no harm in having a nap, and a lot to gain in regards to your energy!
A post-cycling routine is arguably just as important as anything you do to prepare yourself for your cycling sessions. Warming your body down gradually and allowing your muscles to relax, refueling your body with healthy food, cleaning your bike or whatever you do - make sure you give time and focus to both yourself and your bike after you exercise to ensure the next time you want to ride, you’re ready!