We all know how vital recovery days are when it comes to working out. Sometimes when your adrenaline is high, you might be tempted to workout every day, but that isn’t good for your mind or body. Some people need one rest day a week, while others need more. But if you’re someone who can’t spend their rest day being totally inactive, try doing active recovery. But what exactly is an active recovery, you ask?
Active recovery differs from passive recovery in that you are still moving your body and exercising. Active recovery includes low-intensity exercise that still promotes blood flow to the muscles, which helps speed up recovery. But getting the perfect balance of promoting that blood flow but not being too intense with the workout can be difficult.
Following an active recovery day, you should feel refreshed and energized for your next workout. It should increase your heart rate and help you get a sweat in, without too much intensity. Active recovery should also promote blood flow to sore areas of your body, lessen muscle inflammation, improve your mood, and increase your cardiovascular endurance.
So- what does active recovery look like?
Yoga is relaxing for both your body and your mind and is an excellent example of active recovery. Yoga helps to lengthen our muscles, which aids in their recovery and helps us improve mobility and flexibility. If you do yoga on an active recovery day, make sure it is gentle.
This can mean swimming, the treadmill, or cycling- as long as it’s low-intensity. Try to keep your heart rate between 120-140bpm so your muscles can recover, but you’re still remaining active and promoting weight loss with the movements.
Getting out in nature and hiking is great for your body and mind. Not only will fresh air help your mood, but hiking is also an excellent form of active recovery. Going on a hike still gets your body moving and enables you to break a sweat without being too intense. Try hiking on uneven terrain as it will work a wider variety of muscles than walking on a flat surface.
Think: foam rolling. Self-myofascial release can be done with a foam roller, massage stick, or whatever else works for you. Regardless, it’s a great form of active recovery. Foam rolling has been found to increase range of motion in the body and reduce muscle soreness, making it an ideal workout to do on a less active day.