Your rest day shouldn’t mean doing nothing at all. I’m a believer in what’s called active rest or active recovery. Rest by itself is passive recovery where you don’t engage in any exercise whatsoever and active recovery involves exercise but at a low intensity. Benefits of active rest include faster recovery times from your full workouts, decreased delayed-onset-muscle-soreness (DOMS), preventing over-use and future injuries, improving immune function, and increasing overall exercise enjoyment.
Here are some of the many examples of active “rest” and recovery:
-Low Intensity Cardio
-Light Weight Lifting
-Jogging (for distance runners)
It’s important to be aware of your current fitness level when choosing an exercise for active rest and recovery. For example, an endurance athlete may choose to do some light cardio or jogging whereas someone new to working out or just getting back into the gym would choose an exercise of lower intensity such as walking, static stretching, or even a professional massage.
The goal is to keep your body moving to increase healing rather than remaining stagnant on your “rest” days, the latter promotes an increase in overall health. I understand that life can be overwhelming and some days you need to rest completely but in general you want to stay in motion on your off days within your workout routine.
Next time you have a day off from the gym . . . stay active. Choose an exercise that you enjoy. It could be as simple as grabbing a coffee and going for a walk along the seawall with yourself or a friend. Try it out this week on each of your off days and you'll begin to notice the change in recovery time, energy levels, and adherence to your workout routine!
Get Fit, Stay Fit, Enjoy Life!
Stephen C. Langhjelm