Health and wellness conversations are everywhere, and there is a greater awareness about the importance of exercise. Whether you like your walks on the beach, a dance class at a studio or are a dedicated marathon runner, post workout recovery is always something to think about.
What happens when we engage in aerobic activity or weight training?
Everyday processes such as walking, talking, thinking, digesting food and our overall metabolism creates acid as a by-product. When we exercise, our heart rate goes up and we have greater blood flow to our muscles. We start to produce more carbon dioxide (CO2) and hydrogen ions (H+) in our muscles. We breathe deeper as the intensity increases, and try to get more oxygen to the body. However, our body might not be able to keep up with us and the metabolism has to use other biochemical processes to make sure we get enough oxygen to our muscles. These processes cause us to generate lactic acid in the muscles, which is a known by-product.
Why is recovery important?
Lactic acid can build up and cause the pH of blood around those muscle groups to drop. When this happens, we can no longer move as dynamically because our muscles can't contract as much, and we might feel stiff and sore. We also might have fatigue, headaches and weakness.
The body, our muscles and organs, all operate within very specific pH levels. If there is a build up of lactic acid, the body needs to metabolize it and allow the kidneys to "detox the body" and our respiratory system to breathe in oxygen and breath out carbon dioxide.
During this recovery phase (and during everyday activities), the body will use essential minerals to help restore our bodies back into balance. For example:
- Iron supports muscles to take oxygen from the bloodstream, which is why you feel tired if your levels are low.
- Calcium is important to regulate muscle contractions and is linked to our exercise performance.
- Magnesium is valuable for our strength and endurance, because it supports our muscles in using oxygen and glucose for energy.
- Zinc helps our immune system, and acts to repair body tissue after exercise.
If the body cannot compensate for a mineral deficiency, then alkaline-forming minerals are leached from the bones or alternatively acid is displaced into the connective tissue. Both of these damage your skeletal system and can prolong symptoms linked with lactic acid build up. Also, with low minerals in the body, it slows down post-workout recovery and so we feel stiffer for longer, lower in energy and even lethargic for a while.
How can we perform better during exercise, and speed up recovery?
Before you head out for a workout, try to have some water and a small snack (which includes some protein and carbohydrates) an hour or even 30 minutes before if you are in a rush. That may help give you enough energy to perform at your best.
While you are exercising, keep a bottle of water handy so that you stay hydrated, and most importantly, listen to your body. If you start to feel dizzy or weak, it is important to take a moment to catch your breath and check in with what is going on. Small rest periods can be very helpful.
After you workout, rehydrate and again have something to eat. Western diets often focus too much on processed foods, which do not contain enough fruits and vegetables, which give you access to the essential minerals that are so critical to our pH balance. So while you want to have some protein and carbohydrates, think about their source and how you balance your meal to be holistic in macro and micro nutrients.
If you are concerned that you do not get sufficient minerals in your diet to support recovery, you can add Multiforce to your routine. It contains a blend of calcium, magnesium, phosphorus and potassium which work together to support the body. You can head to our website to learn more and shop now on Amazon.
Live life, balanced.
BBC Science Focus Magazine. What happens to my body when I exercise? Accessed 10/25/2020
National Center for Biotechnology Information, US National Library of Medicine. The role of mineral and trace element supplementation in exercise and athletic performance: A systematic review. Accessed 10/25/2020
Meredith Corporation, Instyle Beauty Group. 5 Minerals that seriously supercharge your workouts. Accessed 10/25/2020
Healthline Media. Lactic Acidosis: What you need to know. Accessed 10/25/2020