Rituals Extend Benefits of Working Out

Most everyone who’s serious about their workout regimen realizes you shouldn’t just jump into an hourlong aerobics session or 30 minutes of weightlifting. 

But doing a few quick, random stretches before getting started or haphazardly grabbing a snack afterward won’t do you as much good as knowing when these acts should be performed and turning them into pre- and post-workout rituals. 

Rituals carve out time to do the things that matter the most to you. Finding a few pre- and post-workout rituals will help maximize your workouts to keep your body and mind healthy.


This isn’t a must, but most experts recommend eating a low-fat combination of protein and complex carbs such as fish and brown rice or a piece of whole-wheat toast topped by almond butter approximately two hours before working out. 

You should be doing this throughout the day, but start drinking more water about 90 minutes before the start of your workout. 

Make sure you’re wearing the correct clothing and shoes for the type of activity you’re planning, plus have everything else you need on hand or packed up: water bottle, supplements, dumbbells, mats, bands, etc. Try not to rush through this, take 10 to 15 minutes. 

Warm up
Do this for at least 5 minutes just prior to working out, no matter how short or long you plan for the workout to last — a dynamic warmup where you move through stretches rapidly to use your joints’ full range of motion, promote circulation and reduce the risk of injury or muscle soreness.


Cool down
Immediate post-workout stretching is as important as before the workout, and these stretches should be done at a much slower pace (15 seconds or more in each pose) to ease your body back to a resting state.

Use foam roller
Some include this in their pre-workout regimen, but it’s especially helpful for recovering from the extremes you’ve pushed your muscles to during your workout. Five to 10 minutes should be enough, and YouTube has lots of videos showing you the proper way to do this, including this one: www.youtube.com/watch?v=t4A523-O5uk

Hydration is even more important to replace the liquids you’ve lost, and eating a healthy snack is more important 30 to 60 minutes after a workout than before. Again you need carbs and proteins, available from sources like a smoothie or a turkey wrap with veggies. 

Log activity
Don’t wait too long to do this or you’ll forget the important details. So, shortly after you eat is probably the right time. Record the date, time spent, which exercises you did (planning these ahead of time can be even better, as long as you account for any deviations). Anything else important to you like mood or pain level should be included, too.