Those dedicated to their workouts go hard every day. They pour every bit of themselves into training, in order to achieve the goals they set out for. However, anyone serious about their fitness knows rest is just as important as working out. Rest days are an essential part of your fitness program.
But what should you actually do on your rest day? Should you kick back on the couch, fix yourself a batch of butter popcorn and binge on some Netflix? It’s a question on many people’s minds, especially those just starting their fitness journey.
Exercising on your rest day may sound like an unnecessarily tiring and entirely counterproductive idea, but the truth is that it offers more benefits than sedentary rest. Active recovery is an incredible concept that involves exercising at far less intensity than normal, with its major benefit that it speeds up the recovery of your muscles so you can perform better upon resuming your usual training.
The principle of active recovery revolves around the concept that increasing blood flow and boosting circulation brings your muscles and organs the much-needed oxygen and nutrients that they require to repair and rebuild.
Want to give a few of these workouts a try? Today, Evolve Daily shares five of the best active recovery exercises for your next rest day.
People have a love-hate relationship with jogging, but it’s a classic exercise that’s on the easier side of the steady-state cardio spectrum. It may be simple, but it does a great job of raising your heart rate and getting your blood coursing through your veins.
A light jog is considered at about 50-70% of your usual capacity. It’s low impact, and should not strain your legs or hurt your joints. The goal is just to get your heart rate up and work up a nice little sweat. 15-30 minutes should be enough to keep you happy.
Don’t push yourself too hard and too fast on your rest day, because you can easily take yourself out of an active recovery state. While it’s easy to get carried away, be mindful that rest is still very much at the core of what you’re doing.
You’ve probably heard this before, but jog hard enough to the point that you’re still able to keep a conversation. If you’re having a hard time speaking while you’re moving, then you’re going too hard.
For some people, jogging just isn’t the right cup of tea. Luckily, swimming offers the same benefits as jogging, but it won’t make you hot and sweaty. Plus, most people enjoy swimming as a leisurely activity, and don’t consider it a form of exercise.
Swimming allows you to go through a controlled range of motion, without the pounding and impact of dry land training. It releases joint tension and pressure, while promoting circulation throughout the body. This allows you to rest your joints, and move them with just the right amount of resistance due to water pressure.
Head on over to the pool with friends or family for a fun day of swimming. You don’t have to do Olympic-style laps, but just try to move your body around in the water as much as possible. The more you move, the better the results. Swimming is one of the best active recovery exercises for your rest days.
Yoga is a fantastic option, especially if you’re a martial artist or an athlete, because it teaches you how to breathe properly and makes you more flexible and agile. Regular yoga sessions on your rest days will give you a host of physiological benefits, not the least of which include keeping your mind calm and clear, relieving stress, and relaxing tense muscles.
The improvement in flexibility will improve blood flow, and at the same time, increase your dexterity. If you’re a martial artist, that means you improve in executing complicated techniques, as well as your balance. On the other hand, good breathing techniques will help keep you calm in high-pressure situations. A clear mind will help you analyze situations under duress, and ultimately help you make better decisions.
Yoga has been around for centuries. You can unlock a lot of your body’s abilities just by practicing Yoga.
4) Dynamic Stretching
Here’s something you can do in the comfort of your own home — dynamic stretching.
Dynamic stretching is another great way to improve your flexibility and agility. It involves moving through a range of motion to get the blood flowing to your muscles, and is great as a warm-up exercise for when you just wake up in the morning. It also improves balance and body awareness.
For your active recovery rest days, dynamic stretching is quick and easy, and shouldn’t take you more than 15-20 minutes. As you stretch, the tension in your knotted-up muscles releases somewhat, which is great to keep your body elastic. In addition, it retrains the muscles to fully relax by taking advantage of the muscle stretch reflex, which is basically a contraction that snaps the muscle back to its relaxed state, in response to stretching.
You can practice this practically anywhere you are, even while on vacation.
5) Low-Intensity Bodyweight Exercises
If you’re the type to kick it up a notch, you can always opt for those low-intensity bodyweight exercises. They are easy and simple enough to do, and anybody can do them, making them perfect for active recovery.
Simple exercises like jumping jacks, high knees, and burpees, just enough to get the blood flowing and raise your heart rate are perfect. You can mix in routines like squats, wall sits, and lunges, or even push-ups. The combinations are endless.
Just don’t push yourself too hard. Remember, it’s still your rest day after all. But do just enough to keep the body moving so that you’re not sedentary. These workouts ensure that you’re not falling off the wagon on your rest days, and help you keep your eyes on the prize.