It takes a lot of time and energy to get a workout in, especially if you have a busy schedule. Don't make these post-workout mistakes that may undo the good you've done — or worse, result in illness or injury.
Keeping Your Mat Rolled Up Until Next Class
Why it's a mistake: You wouldn't ball up your sweaty sports bra and then slip it on the next time you work out, so why do the same thing with your yoga mat? Keep in mind that dark, moist places are breeding grounds for bacteria.
What you should do: After getting home from class, wipe down your mat, and hang it over a door or banister, so it can dry.
Staying in Sweaty Clothes After a Workout
Why it's a mistake: Aside from feeling disgusting, staying in sweaty clothes can lead to a yeast infection or body acne. And although going outside in wet clothes won't make you sick, when you walk out into the freezing air, your wet clothes are going to make you very chilly, and being cold for too long can weaken the immune system.
What you should do: Always pack a clean, dry change of clothes, including undies, a bra, and socks. Shower if you can, but if time doesn't allow for it, just change into your dry outfit.
Rewarding Yourself With High-Calorie Treats
Why it's a mistake: After burning 250 calories during your workout, you'll end up undoing all the good by taking in more calories than you burned!
What you should do: Choose a healthy post-workout snack that both replenishes carbs and protein and satisfies any sweet cravings. Here are a few under 150 calories . You'll feel satisfied after enjoying a healthy snack rather than guilty for polishing off a decadent dessert.
Downing a Sports Drink After Your Workout
Why it's a mistake: A 12-ounce bottle of G Series Pro Gatorade contains 330 calories . That's almost as many calories as a serving of Ben & Jerry's Peanut Butter Cup ice cream! Unless you're working out intensely for hours, a sports drink isn't necessary.
What you should do: If you're doing a regular 30- to 60-minute workout, rehydrate with good old-fashioned water. If you're concerned about replacing lost electrolytes, go for calorie-free SmartWater or low-calorie coconut water. Save the sports drinks for longer, more intense workouts.
Touching Your Face
Why it's a mistake: If you're getting your sweat on in a public place like a gym or yoga studio, where you share equipment or touch things commonly touched by others such as doorknobs or bathroom faucets, it's easy to pick up germs on your hands. If you touch your face during or after your workout, you might as well buy a box of tissues and some chicken noodle soup and plop your sick self on the couch.
What you should do: Be very conscious about not touching your face. Disinfect equipment when possible, and use a towel you brought from home to wipe off any perspiration. As soon as you're finished working out, head to the bathroom to wash off any germs from your hands. If you can't get to a bathroom, use antibacterial wipes or gel.
Skipping the Cooldown
Why it's a mistake: The post-workout cooldown and stretching session is essential to your workout, because it allows your heart rate to slowly return to its normal pace and can prevent soreness and injury by stretching out the muscles you just used.
What you should do: If you're worried about shortening your workout to make time to cool down and stretch, push yourself harder during the actual workout by pumping up the intensity for 10 minutes before cooling down for five. Or, if you can, get to the gym 15 to 20 minutes earlier, so you can get in your regular cardio workout and still have enough time to cool down and stretch your muscles.