If you enjoy leading an active lifestyle and spend multiple days per week training and working out, then you’ll know the importance of rest days. These are the days where you take a break from your usual training schedule and give your body a chance to recuperate and repair itself. They’re especially important if you’re working your body hard with activities like distance running or weight training.
But as knowledgeable as some of us are about what to do on our training days, we may not know exactly what to do on our rest days. In this article, we’re going to discuss the difference between engaging in active and passive recovery on your rest days and then go into some tips for both. We’ll cover everything from the use of CBD products to laps around the pool and show you how they can make a big difference in helping you achieve fitness goals by achieving proper recovery.
Active Recovery vs. Passive Recovery
You are probably already familiar with these terms. Active recovery while training refers to staying active, or moving, as you recover from higher intensity activities. For example, this might include walking laps around the track after doing a series of sprints or doing some light cycling after accomplishing a serious bench press session.
Passive recovery would be resting, either sitting or standing, without engaging in any more physical activity.
But how do they apply to your rest days? And why would you even consider active recovery on a rest day?
To begin with, many folks who are active five or six days per week will feel an itch to get moving and do something on their rest day. Without a plan for some active recovery, you may be tempted to do the same training you’re supposed to be taking a break from! This defeats the purpose of a rest day. Also, active recovery that targets the same muscle groups used during your workouts has been shown to be effective in relieving muscle fatigue.
Let’s take a look at six things to do on your training rest days.
What You Can Do for Passive Recovery
Eat Healthy and Hydrate Properly: Studies continue to show that nutrition plays a key role in post-exercise recovery and that eating to meet your needs is crucial. This will be a little different for each person, even when comparing two individuals doing the same training. That’s because what our bodies need will vary depending on our metabolism, gut health and any hereditary conditions that may affect vitamin or nutrient needs. You may also need additional supplements on these days, like a couple of CBD gummies or spirulina tablets to help with inflammation that isn’t subsiding on its own. It’s always a good idea to get nutritional advice from an expert, but if that’s not an option, there are several apps that offer great guidance as well. As you fuel your recovery with nutritious food and a proper caloric intake, don’t forget to drink that water! Adequately hydrating is a must for your muscles and organs to repair themselves after days of training.
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Sleep: There is perhaps no better form of recovery than sleep and researchers in the field of athletics are urging that this be driven home to anyone who undergoes regular, strenuous training – whether they’re a pro or amateur. Many of us have busy schedules and, at times, our training might even eat into the amount of time we budget for sleep. On a rest day, allocating a bit more time to sleep will not just aid in recovery, it will also help in future performance. If you’re sleeping better, your brain will be better prepared to focus and help your body handle future physical stress and exertion during your workouts. That means there’s the potential for better lifts and longer distances from simply catching an extra 30 minutes to an hour of sleep on your rest days.
What You Can Do for Active Recovery
Stretching/Mobility Exercises/Foam Rolling: A big problem many folks have, especially as they age, is decreasing mobility and flexibility. This is because as you train, muscles can tighten and shorten. This is an issue that needs to be regularly addressed. Think of it as maintenance or upkeep. Otherwise, it may cause you issues in the future. Directly targeting muscles in areas of your body that were the focus of your training during the week is a good idea. You can also look at the days ahead and get some preemptive stretching and mobility work in there. And for those pain points, try some foam rolling to work out the kinks. You’ll be surprised at how effective 15 to 20 minutes with a roller is.
Yoga: In addition to providing all of the benefits of the stretching and mobility exercises that we just mentioned, yoga is great for helping you develop better breathing techniques and balance. The breath is a key focus in yoga, whether you’re doing Ashtanga Yoga to build your strength or Yin Yoga to increase circulation in your fasciae. If you’re better connected to your breath, you’ll be able to lift heavier and run farther. Getting this sort of practice on a rest day through yoga is a great form of active recovery.
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Swimming: Jumping in the pool, especially during the hotter months, will be a great way to not only relax and cool down, but also to get some low impact exercise in on your off day. You don’t need to push it and go too rigorously, but a half dozen laps at the local pool followed by a soak in the hot tub could make a world of difference in helping loosen stiff muscles and joints while keeping your heart rate up a little.
Walk/Jog: A 30-minute walk or slow jog on your rest day is a great way to make sure your body doesn’t stiffen up too much and that you get your daily steps in. And if you’re already doing this during your training days, keep it up anyway! It’s recommended that we get at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on a daily basis. Getting out for a short walk or jog is an easy way to make that happen. It will also help in your recovery and get rid of lactic acid buildup in your muscles so you don’t feel as sore.
Rest Day = Do Whatever You Want Day
Remember: A rest day isn’t a license to sit on the couch all day eating buckets of ice cream and bowls of snacks. You’ve spent the entire week taking your health and training seriously, so don’t undo that effort on your rest days. By engaging in the right kinds of passive and active recovery on your rest days, you’ll be keeping yourself in the zone and maintain that healthy lifestyle that will keep you feeling healthier and living your best life every day.
Diksha Rai is a professional content writer. She is very passionate about writing articles related to health, diet, weight loss, yoga and fitness. I have been inspired by the most prolific weight loss authors and have a desire to become fastidious researcher with an excellent talent for divining future situations.