Your post-exercise behaviour matters. In fact, it matters almost as much as what you do during your workout.

Knowing what to do and what not to do after your sweat session can significantly enhance the workout you just did, or prepare you to crush your next one.

Here are 5 ways to fix some of the most common post-workout mistakes:

Don’t skip out on stretching

Many of us are working with little time and trying to fit in a workout wherever we can. Our solution? We skip a warm-up and cooldown to help maximize our time with the weights.

Stretching is important because it allows your muscles to recover after a tough workout, and it helps prevent injuries. Fitting in a stretching routine can also improve your range of motion in the short-term and help you make the most of your next gym session.

Do keep drinking water

We’re all aware of the need to drink water during and immediately after our workout, but we don’t often consider the long-term effect that exercise has on our hydration needs. Long after you’re done in the gym, your body requires more water to keep up with that demanding gym session.

Proper hydration levels will improve protein synthesis and speed up your recovery and will help get rid of the waste created by muscle breakdown. Urine colour, not thirst, is the best indicator of your hydration levels; you want to aim for a pale yellow colour.

Avoid drinking caffeinated beverages after a workout. Caffeine beforehand is okay because it can help boost your energy levels and possibly help stimulate fat loss. However, after exercise, your cortisol levels are high, and you’ll want to bring them down as fast as possible to help with recovery.

Don’t become a couch potato

Immediately crashing down onto the couch, returning to your desk at work or getting into bed after a workout can have a detrimental effect on your recovery.

Sitting or lying down for extended periods after your workout can increase muscle soreness and slow down your recovery because it allows blood to pool. Try to get up and walk around every 20 to 30 minutes to keep your blood flowing and let your body take its time moving from exertion to relaxation.

Do eat a light snack

It’s not uncommon for us to reward ourselves with that post-workout cheeseburger or pizza that we ‘earned’ in the gym. However, our digestive systems typically aren’t prepared to accommodate such a large meal in the immediate aftermath of a workout.

That said, it is important to eat something after the gym to help refill the glycogen you’ve depleted and promote protein synthesis. Try eating a light snack immediately after your workout, and save the bigger meal for an hour or two down the road when your digestive system is better-equipped to handle it.

Do celebrate your progress

Instead of immediately whipping out your phone to check your texts or scrolling through Instagram, take some time to reflect on what you accomplished. Enjoy the buzz that comes from completing a workout and acknowledge the physical and mental benefits of what you just did.