6 Things You Should Never Do After A Workout

Photographed by Caroline Tompkins.
Preparing for a workout can be kind of fun: You book your favorite boxing bag days in advance, make sure your comfiest sweat-wicking leggings are clean, and plot your escape from work to get to the studio on time. But then, once you've checked "work out" off your to-do list, you probably plop down on the couch and move on with your busy life.
The thing is, your post-workout routine is almost as important as the workout itself, so you should be strategic about what you do and don't do. It's not that doing the "wrong" thing or activity is going to derail your workout efforts in one fell swoop. But there are certain habits that are beneficial after a workout that you shouldn't ignore.
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Whether you have a regular daily workout routine, or are just getting back into exercise, here are some post-workout activities and habits that you should probably avoid.
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illustrated by Bella DiMarzio.
Don't skip the stretch and cool-down.

Every minute spent stretching or cooling down after a workout might feel like one more minute you could be out of the gym and living your life, but you really should stretch. Better yet, you should do some sort of self-myofascial release, like foam rolling, in order to improve circulation and help relax your muscle tissue after a hard workout.
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illustrated by Bella DiMarzio.
Don't wait to have a snack.

Ideally, you should aim to eat within 30-45 minutes after a workout in order for your body to properly synthesize nutrients that will help with muscle repair, according to the American Council on Exercise. If you don't have a drink, a special smoothie, or protein bar handy that's okay, just eat something with about a 3-4:1 carbohydrate-to-protein ratio, like a banana, nut butter, and cup of milk, for example.
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illustrated by Bella DiMarzio.
Don't keep your sweaty clothes on.

Doesn't matter how cute your athleisure lewk is, you've got to change out of your sweaty clothes after a workout. Doing so will help prevent uncomfortable vaginal infections like bacterial vaginosis or yeast infections from popping up. See, bacteria and yeast thrive in a damp, dark environment like damp leggings and technical fabrics.
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illustrated by Bella DiMarzio.
Don't take a smoke break.

In a world where Juuls are ubiquitous, you may not realize the very real impact that using nicotine can have on your body. The nicotine and carbon monoxide from cigarettes specifically can cause arteries to narrow over time, which means your heart has to work harder to pump blood to your heart, muscles, and organs, according to the National Institutes of Health. Your muscles need oxygen to do their job, so you can imagine why smoking and working out just don't mix.
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illustrated by Bella DiMarzio.
Don't get drunk.

While you're probably not going to down shots after your morning indoor cycling class, there may be some times when you hit up a boozy brunch after your barre class. In general, that's not a great habit to get into, because when you're already dehydrated from a workout and then drink alcohol (which is a diuretic), you tend to get drunker faster. Plus, other studies suggest that drinking regularly after exercise could change how your nervous system tells your body to work in some way.
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illustrated by Bella DiMarzio.
Don't pull an all-nighter.

Sleep is a very underrated aspect of workout recovery. During the rapid-eye movement (aka REM) stage of sleep, your body repairs and rebuilds its tissues that were damaged during the day. So, skimping on sleep after a solid workout not only makes it harder to wake up the next morning for your workout, but it also screws with the progress you could otherwise reap.
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