Working out is a necessary component to living a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Moving your body and breaking a sweat are active ways to ensure your body’s health over time, but it is often an aspect of health that gets neglected. Our fitness routines fall off our priority list because of the other demands placed on us through our daily life.
By the time we realize this neglect is doing us more harm than good and we are ready, as well as willing to make a change, working out becomes a driving force in our daily routine.
There is a sense of urgency to get our bodies back to “where they used to be” and that sense of urgency leads us to feel like we need to workout all day, every day. Or close to it. We want to transform our bodies so desperately that we can taste it and it becomes an all-encompassing force in our lives.
However, pushing our bodies to these limits oftentimes also means neglecting the opportunity to rest. After all, if workouts were neglected for a long period of time, or maybe never started in the first place, rest time seems unnecessary because that is essentially what you have been doing.
How Important is Rest?
Resting, recovery days or active rest days might make you feel like you are regressing on the progress you have been making when you push fitness into the forefront of your To-Do List.
The reality is that incorporating proper rest and active recovery days into your fitness routine is a priority to continue to see results from all the hard work you are doing on those workout days. Recovery days and active rest days do not mean that you have to sit on your couch all day, but it does mean that you are giving your body a minute to catch its breath from the intense workouts you are putting yourself through on those active workout days.
Beyond the obvious reason for incorporating active recovery days into your fitness regimen, having regularly scheduled recovery days also helps prevent injury, gives your muscles the chance to grow, and will help you avoid a training plateau.
Ways to Incorporate your Active Recovery Days
Just as you plan your workouts, you should be planning your recovery days as well. My previous article, “How to Plan Your Workouts” will give you all the specifications on how to plan those intense workout days.
Here’s how you incorporate your active recovery days:
- After you set out the number of days you are going to workout, add in an extra day to recover.
- Trainer Tip: if you can add in two days, go for it. Make one of those days be an active rest day and the other be a day of no workouts, active or otherwise, at all.
Trainer Tip: choose something low impact for your active rest days.
Here are my go to’s:
- Easy hike: Not something that will leave you feeling like you have climbed Mount Everest, but something that will get you outside, get you moving and get your blood flowing. If you are not sure where to find one, google trails around your area. There is a ton of information about available hikes near you, including their difficulty.
- Go for a walk: Maybe you walk around your neighborhood, or maybe you go somewhere fun for your walk. Again, focus on it being something that moves your body and does not leave you feeling breathless.
- Yoga: This is a great option because it will get you moving and get you stretching all those tight muscles from those hard workout days. Check out YouTube for free and easy yoga workouts you can do at home.
- Pilates: This low impact workout that is designed to bring balance to the body while improving core strength is a great option for active recovery days. It will leave you feeling lengthened and toned, while also giving your body a low impact option for movement.
- Focused Stretching: None of us stretch enough, and we all need it as a means of injury prevention. YouTube is a great option for finding stretching programs that are free and will guide you through how to stretch properly so you can feel all that length in your muscles without injuring yourself.
Pro Tip: Active rest days are an awesome opportunity for you to include the whole family. Find something fun that everyone can do together, and enjoy the time with your family as you improve your fitness routine.
Fitness is the active process of ensuring your health for the longevity of your life. While there are more immediate rewards for taking care of yourself, there are also tons of long-term gains to be made not just in your workouts but also in your recovery. Taking active recovery days into account in your fitness will help your body feel better and will also help you continue to see results from all of your hard work.