An often overlooked component of exercise is rest and recovery. When people get into a good exercise routine, they often want to keep going, despite muscle pain and fatigue, thinking they’re getting stronger. However, not allowing your body sufficient time to recuperate from exercise can actually slow your exercise progress by preventing your muscles and tissues from regenerating properly.
Rest and recovery
In terms of exercise, “rest” implies that you are not doing anything physical; you participate in sedentary activities requiring minimal activity. Rest is a vital part of exercise recovery, but you shouldn’t be resting for an entire day. Some movement is required to promote circulation to stimulate the regeneration of your muscles and tissues as well as deliver nutrients to help sustain them. This is where exercise recovery comes into play.
Exercise recovery implies some sort of movement to promote circulation to ensure proper blood flow to muscles and tissues. Recovery exercises should never be the same intensity level as your normal exercise routine and should not cause additional muscle soreness. They should consist of activities which keep you moving without causing additional stress to your body. The number of days you recover from your workout will be dependent on how you feel and the types of exercise you perform. If you feel sore and tired, it’s a good indication your body may need the time to recover. On average you should plan to get 1 to 2 days of recovery time per week.
Examples of recovery exercises
Look for a low-impact, light intensity exercises to perform on your recovery days. Are you unsure of where to start? Try these ideas!
Tai Chi – This-low impact, low intensity exercise is great way not only to keep moving on your recovery day, but is a good form of stress relief. It combines gentle movements to create dance-like routines. Learn more about tai chi here!
Yoga – Similar to tai chi, yoga keeps you moving with slow, gentle movements. Where it differs is with yoga, you perform a series of poses that help you stretch your muscles and improve your strength. Interested in learning more? Click here! If you feel intimidated about jumping into a yoga class without knowing much about it, there are great apps you can use to practice–for example, Gain Yoga.
Pilates – The primary goal of Pilates is to strengthen and tone your core muscles. At the same time, much of Pilates focuses around breathing, stability and flexibility. Similar to tai chi and yoga, Pilates is characterized as a mind/body exercise that can help promote overall well-being. You can learn more about Pilates here.
Walking – This form of exercise is often discredited since it is something we do every day. However, walking for fitness is a great low-impact activity to perform on your recovery days. Walking helps improve your cardiovascular fitness and endurance. You can learn more about walking here.
Swimming – Another great low-impact exercise, swimming can help you keep moving while recovering. Choose slower strokes like breast stroke or even just walking through the water for some light resistance. Swimming is easy on your joints and takes much of the weight off of your muscles. For more information about swimming, click here. Never swim without a buddy!
For Health Advocate members
If you’re a Health Advocate member with access to the Wellness Coaching component of our Wellness Program, contact a coach today for more great tips to help you maximize your workout!