If you’re anything like me, you’re the kind of person who leaves everything on the mat during a workout. I love nothing more than feeling drenched in sweat after a hard session that ends with shaky legs and loads of endorphins.
I’m sweating too a lot of. Some people don’t seem to sweat as much as others, but I do, and my post-workout hygiene needs to be on point.
While many of my friends shudder at the thought of not showering after a workout, like so many women, I often work out on a tight schedule. This means that I can’t always shower immediately after training. Sometimes it’s worth sacrificing a wash for that extra set… and jumping right back to work in less-than-fresh clothes.
am i gross Maybe. But I’ve also recently discovered that there are good reasons to delay post-run laundry — and they might even improve your fitness.
The Health Benefits of Waiting to Wash After a Workout
“During a workout, your body temperature and heart rate will increase, especially after a higher-intensity session. If you jump straight into the shower afterwards, you may risk constricting your dilated blood vessels too quickly,” explains women’s health and wellbeing expert Dal Dhaliwal.
I’m not talking about being an absolute soap louse, but the experts all agree that giving your body some time to cool down and readjust post-workout can really be beneficial.
Alex Randall, Founder and CEO of Revel Sports tells Stylist: “I recommend waiting 20 minutes to shower after a workout to allow your body to cool down gradually. Sweating helps cool down our bodies, so when we shower right after a workout, we remove sweat from our skin before it has a chance to evaporate, helping us cool down naturally.
“It also helps prevent potential shock to your system and allows your body to reap the benefits of exercise for short periods of time.”
What about the accumulation of bacteria?
30 minutes is the maximum you should wait
Ideally, you should wait until you’ve stopped sweating profusely before showering; Otherwise, you run the risk of still being hot and sweaty after washing. This varies from person to person, but in most cases this will take anywhere from five to 30 minutes, depending on the intensity of the exercise.
Twenty minutes is the time window experts recommend, but there’s one important caveat: Sitting around in sweaty clothes puts you at risk of infection from sweat and bacteria. If you’re planning a late shower, it’s important to change into fresh clothes and wash your workout gear after each use.
And I shouldn’t have to explain why it’s important to wash off that sweat at some Period, even if it’s not done immediately. It’s not just about hygiene: it’s your chance to unwind and bask in that post-workout endorphin high for a few moments.
The mental benefits of post-workout bathing
Randall agrees on the therapeutic benefits of going to the bathroom: “A post-workout shower can help reduce muscle soreness by removing lactic acid buildup, as well as improve circulation and promote healing.
“There’s something about the combination of hot water and steam that seems to melt away the fatigue and stress of physical activity. In addition to the physical benefits, post-workout showering can also help relax your body and mind. Showering can be a meditative experience that helps clear the mind and promote a sense of calm.”
Washing should be part of your cool down routine
While waiting for the shower can be frustrating, especially when you’re busy, there are many things you can do during this time to aid in recovery. Think about it as you would warm up; These 20 minutes before the shower are your cool down.
“Personally, I recommend building in a 10-20 minute cool-down segment, including a stretch, at the end of your workout to prevent injury and muscle soreness. This cool down gives your body time to stabilize its temperature and is also a great time to rehydrate and grab a nutritious, protein-based snack. After that, you can take a shower,” says Dhaliwal.
In an ideal world, we would all have time to warm up, exercise, and cool off properly. But the bottom line is, the next time you rush back to the office after working up a sweat at lunch, don’t feel bad about skipping the shower. Just change your clothes and head to that post-work soak, knowing you’re taking care of your body in more ways than one.