Some people are tempted to skip pre- and post-workout activities for the sake of saving time. However, the time spent prepping for and recovering from a work out will save discomfort and soreness later.
Before a workout, make time for active stretching. Active stretching (such as shoulder rolls and trunk twists) involves rotating and moving joints. The goal is to make, and keep, yourself flexible without expending too much energy before the workout.
After a workout, your muscles will likely shrink/relax, causing your limbs to be weak/stiff. The best way to avoid this is to use static stretching (stretching limbs or back) to expand your muscles, allowing them to relax back to a normal size (avoiding post-workout stiffness).
Hydration is also important, particularly as the weather gets warmer. Dehydration can lead to muscle spasms/cramps or cause fatigue. There is also the potential for more serious, long-term consequences, such as kidney failure and brain swelling, if people are severely dehydrated.
Luckily, even a token effort at staying hydrated (64 ounces of water per day) is generally enough to avoid the worst dangers. When working out, especially in hot weather, drink more water. The more you sweat, the more you need to drink.
Post-workout recovery is almost as important as hydration. Protein bars and shakes are fine for post-workout recovery, and as an occasional meal replacement. Check the labels. The more protein and the fewer carbohydrates a bar or shake has, the better it is.
At the risk of wasting space on the obvious, sports drinks (Gatorade) and energy drinks (Red Bull) are not the same. Sports drinks have sugar and electrolytes (useful before or during a workout, particularly for athletes) while energy drinks have caffeine (which causes dehydration).
Be safe. Have fun. Stay focused. And, as ever, contact me if there are any topics that you would like to see discussed in this column at email@example.com.