Weight loss, toned muscles and improved heart health are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the benefits of working out. While science has proved over and over again that the list is a long one, science doesn’t talk about the annoying “side effects” that naturally occur from consistent trips to the gym.
Whether you’re just starting your fitness journey or have been in the workout game for years, we’ve rounded up five pesky problems and how to deal with them:
1. Dirty Laundry
Different workouts may do different things for your body, but they all do the same thing for your laundry: make it pile up! Your sweaty clothes are proof of a job well done, but they need to be dealt with properly or you’ll have a stinky situation on your hands.
Mildew is nobody’s friend. If you’re not going to wash your clothes immediately after a workout, skip the habitual laundry basket toss and hang them up to dry.
If you are going to hit the washer right away—which is the best way to prevent stains and smells from setting—always set the temperature to the hottest setting your fabric can handle. Try a detergent specially designed for athletic clothes like SportsSuds or Tide Plus Febreze Sport.
If you’re feeling ambitious and want to stop stains in their tracks, pre-soak your sweaty clothing in one part vinegar to four parts water for 30 minutes. Just know that bleach and vinegar do not mix well, so rinse your gear in cold water before washing if your detergent contains bleach.
2. Constant Hunger
Does an hour at the gym turn you into the human form of the Hungry Hungry Hippo? Yep, that’ll happen to the best of us. If the amount or intensity of your workouts has increased, your body will need more food to counteract the burning of more calories. Instead of hitting up the drive-thru on the way home to quell your hunger pains, you need to fuel your body with good-for-you food that’ll give you energy and keep you full.
If the bulk of your calories come from dinner, you’re setting yourself up for a hungry day. A study from Tel Aviv University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem found that participants who ate a big breakfast compared to a group that ate a big dinner had lower levels of the hormone ghrelin, which increases appetite. The take-away? Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.
Fiber is hunger’s greatest enemy because it slows digestion and makes you feel full. Take a look at your current diet and see where you can squeeze in more of this good stuff. Think oatmeal, brown rice, beans, fruits and veggies.
Keep hunger at bay while simultaneously building your muscles by making post-workout snack time all about the protein. A smoothie with protein powder, a handful of mixed nuts, a Greek yogurt, whole wheat toast with peanut butter or a hard boiled egg are all awesome options!
3. The Case Of The Chafes
When fabric rubs against your skin on the treadmill, moisture and friction team up to bring you the oh-so-annoying (and painful!) side effect of chafing. The rash and redness is no joke, so don’t let it put a damper on your next workout.
Loose cotton clothing that gets wet and stays wet is often the culprit when it comes to the case of the chafes. Swap your cotton clothing for tight fitting styles in moisture wicking fabric.
To prevent thigh chafing, skip the short shorts. Wear longer biker-style shorts, capris or pants.
If this problem still persists, try a product like Body Glide or other similar anti-chaffing remedies.
4. Your Body Needs More Recovery and Rest
Have you ever had the gym session of your life and woken up the next morning feeling lethargic? Welcome to muscle fatigue. Our bodies are amazing machines, but they also need a little TLC once in a while to operate at full capacity. But don’t worry, rest and recovery won’t take away from your fitness goals. When our muscle fibers tear (which happens during a tough workout), they actually rebuild stronger!
Ease sore muscles with a little help from your friend, the foam roller. Foam rolling is designed to work out the myofascial adhesions, or “knots,” in our muscles, which can develop through training and overuse. Grab a foam roller post-workout and try these six moves.
Push the recovery process along by reaching for a bag of frozen peas or a fancy gel ice pack. A study found that applying a cold pack for 10 minutes to sore muscles reduced blood flow to the muscles—a sign of inflammation— by 50 percent.
As gym time becomes part of your normal routine, so does a goodnight’s sleep. Studies have suggested that sleep deprivation can have a negative impact on performance and recovery. Make sure you’re getting seven to eight hours of ZZZs a night and your body will thank you.
5. A Jolt of Exercise Euphoria
Okay, you got us … this technically isn’t a negative side effect of exercise. But we need to mention one of the most positive results. Exercise rocks and you will feel like a post-workout rock star. A big dose of self-confidence, a clear head and that feeling of “I can do anything!” are just a few of the benefits of a trip to the gym.
Lace up your sneaks. “Runner’s High” is real. German researchers found that long runs cause a flood of endorphins in the brain. These endorphins raise levels of euphoria and pump up your mood.
Exercise does a body good, but it also does the brain good. Study after study has shown that a sweat session can help ease depression, anxiety and anger.
Sculpted muscles may be one of the main goals of exercisers, but a self-esteem boost comes with the package as well. A study published in the Journal of Sport and Exercise Psychology found that middle-aged women enhanced how they perceived their body attractiveness by continued participation in physical activity.
Don’t let these fixable “side effects” side swipe your efforts at the gym. The awesome positives of exercise are worth dealing with the negatives!