Spending time outdoors is one of the most well-rounded ways to have fun and be healthy. However, doing activities outdoors can also be some of the most draining for our bodies. Everything from heat exposure to simple injuries like a twisted ankle can make the whole experience a little daunting.
Just by talking to athletes or physicians about ways to recover from an outdoor workout (or even just any quick google search), you’ll find tons of tips like sleeping adequate hours, taking in protein before and after activity, and a whole lot on using tools to aid in recovery like a foam roller — all of which are great tips. But beyond talking about branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), protein and electrolytes, not much is in the realm of supplementation is discussed when it comes to the recovery process.
The following list is a guide to supplements to look for to speed up a post outdoor workout recovery process, aid sleep, and replenish essential nutrients for a balanced physical state.
The most abundant amino acid found in the human body. It would also be one of the first nutrients to decrease with extraneous exercise. This is especially so with heat exposure and unbalanced ground (like in trail running) that can strain muscles, ligaments and joints.
On the same note as above, glutathione — which glutamine is a precursor — is the most abundant antioxidant the body has. This is important because any cell damage or energy creation will, in turn, form reactive oxidative stress (ROS). And the longer ROS lingers in the body, the more damage and aging it creates. So glutathione is essential in pushing ROS out of the body and helps speed up the recovery process.
This is responsible for the viscoelastic and lubricating properties of synovial fluid and for performing biophysical, biochemical, and cell-regulatory roles in joint synovial tissues — so it’s great for joints, basically. Given that outdoor activity can cause so much wear and tear on the joints, the question becomes, why do people tend to only focus on joint health when they’re in their elderly stages? But besides joints, the enhanced viscoelasticity that hyaluronic acid can help with is also great for blood flow, which is vital for the proper carrying of nutrients to wherever they need to go in the body.
This too is a joint targeting supplement. It has been proven to positively influence joint space width, joint comfort and fluid accumulation. Think about it from the perspective of inflammation; If the joints are inflamed, they have less space for blood flow and ROS to be excreted. This equals joint pain and joint dis-ease. This can ease these symptoms by cutting down on inflammation.
Aww yeah, good ole vitamin C! It is always talked about for immunity, but did you know that vitamin C is also essential to collagen synthesis and the maintenance of collagen integrity? This means that once the body starts to repair, a proper structure still needs to be formed through that repair. Meaning, one can’t just hope things go back to their normal states or become magically improved. Serum response element (SRE) genetics and DNA can play a role, but one also can’t hope genetics and DNA will do what they need to do, and it still needs to manifest in the physical form. But that’s a topic for another day; the moral of the story is that vitamin C can help rebuild collagen integrity and that’s a good thing.
This helps reduce the negative effects of free radicals, including oxygen radicals. This action is particularly beneficial for people who have higher levels of oxidative stress. In addition, alpha-lipoic acid regenerates vitamins C and E, increases tissue levels of glutathione, and helps maintain the proper ratio of reduced to oxidized coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10) in the mitochondria — the powerhouse of the cell. This is particularly important because it helps improve the effectiveness of all the previous supplements we’ve talked about and any other activities one may take to help recover.
This enzyme helps create energy and reduces oxidation damage; thus, it is intimately involved in energy production and the prevention of free radical-induced oxidation. It is usually known as the heart vitamin, but that’s only because the heart is where you find the most need for energy production and the reduction of free radicals. It’s the age-old theory; for every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction. The heart is expanding and contracting constantly, which takes energy and produces reactive oxidative stress (ROS). So CoQ10 is heavily involved there and everywhere in the electron transport chain that produces energy.
Plenty has been studied in recent years on the connection between resveratrol supplementation and antiaging. How does it apply to recovery? Well, antiaging essentially is all about reducing stress to the cells and the quick and healthy turnover of those “old” cells into “new” cells. It’s the same as recovery (14). The great thing about resveratrol? It’s found naturally in nuts and grapes. So … wine? Yup. There’s a saying that a glass of wine is good for you, and that’s why! So enjoy just one glass to avoid creating more oxidative stress, which is easily done with alcohol.
There are many more supplements and vitamins that aid in the recovery process. And many of the ones you’ll read about with a quick search aren’t wrong at all, but they usually only focus on a few metrics—my favorite metric: complete and long-lasting health. When you can focus on recovering at the cellular and mitochondrial level, you can target complete regenerative health. That’s why I love the outdoors. Because it brings together all the elements, helping us truly enjoy the totality of our human power by challenging it, and recovery is how we endure the process.
About the Author
Baldomero Garza, MBA, E-RYT, CHC — AKA “Baldo”— is the co-founder of The Health Lounge by MSW, MSW Nutrition, and the How Do You Health? Network in Austin, Texas. A Houston native, Baldo has been studying nutrition for five years but has been experiencing it all first hand for many years as a college athlete and beyond. Baldo spends much of his time on quality control and researching methods to provide pharmaceutical strength supplements that are highly bioavailable for all through MSW Nutrition. MSW Health Lounge is an Austin hot spot for groundbreaking health & wellness, hosting regular Lunch & Learns and other events for the community to come together and learn about how to improve their lives with health. His passions include entrepreneurship, interviewing guests on the How do you Health? podcast, and traveling with his friends to climb mountains and go on adventures.