What do you do after exercising? Do you rush out of the gym, pool or wherever you’re exercising and hurry into your next plan of action for the day? Most of us live a busy life, even in retirement. We have a to-do list to get done. Before you start on that to-do list, make sure you finish your exercise routine so you can be ready for your next round of exercise. Here are a few actions to take to wrap up your workout, courtesy of the American Council on Exercise (ACE).

Cool down. Over the years, I’ve seen many exercisers go from intense cardio right to the locker room to change and go home. The body needs time to cool down after a moderate or intense workout. Do we drive our car full speed into the driveway or garage, slam on the brakes and shut the engine off? I don’t. I slow down and slowly drive to my parking spot. The same applies to the body when exercising. Take a few minutes to cool your body down with light intensity exercises.

Stretch the muscles. I’ll admit that I’m guilty at times of neglecting a good muscle stretch when I get done exercising but it’s not often because I value stretching. Stretching after your workout when your muscles are warm can help to improve posture, help your muscles relax, and increase your mobility and range of motion. Staying flexible helps to prevent injuries.

Wash your hands. Especially if you exercise in a gym with other people using the same equipment. Good fitness trainers will have an equipment cleaning checklist to do daily and a good gym will provide fitness wipes for customers to clean equipment after their workout. It’s still important to wash your hands though.

Gym shoes. Designate a pair of shoes to be your exercise shoes. This will help to make them last longer and stay supportive during exercise. Change back into your street shoes when you have finished your workout.

Water bottle refill. Fill up your water bottle and keep drinking water after your exercise routine is done. Keep drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated.

Eat something. Grab a healthy snack with some carbohydrates (fuel for the body) and proteins (helps to repair muscles).

Prepare your gym bag. Get your gym bag ready for your next workout so you’ll have no excuse not to exercise. Remember that time when you left a sweaty towel, socks and shirt in your gym bag for a couple of days? And maybe that gym bag was left in your hot car? Nasty!

Wrap up your workout so you’ll be motivated for your next one! Here’s to your great health.

Jonathan Souder is the Fitness Director at Manor House, an Acts Retirement-Life Community in Seaford, Delaware. This column appeared in the September 14, 2017 edition of the Seaford Star.