Active Recovery & the Difference Between Rest Days and Recovery Days
Active Recovery: What Is It?
The word “recovery” implies that you are getting back to your normal life after some time off from work, school, etc. But it’s not really true. You need to get back into the swing of things again before you can feel like yourself again. That means no more sitting around doing nothing!
In fact, if you don’t get back into the swing of things again, then you’re just going to have to go through all those phases of depression and anxiety again. I’m sure there are many people out there who suffer from these mental illnesses and they still manage to live productive lives.
However, most people aren’t so lucky. They fall victim to them at one point or another in their lives.
When you start feeling depressed or anxious, it’s usually because something in your life isn’t working right. Maybe you’re too busy with other things and don’t have enough time to spend with your loved ones.
Or maybe you’ve been dealing with a breakup and now that relationship is causing problems in your everyday life. Whatever the reason, sometimes the best thing to do is take a break from everything and give yourself some space to recover mentally.
This is why active recovery is so important. It’s an important part of the exercise and recovery process.
During this time, you don’t exert your body or your mind. You don’t force yourself to do anything. Your body naturally recovers from the workout you just had. Then, after some time has passed, you go back to the gym to do it all over again. This is also called a rest day.
How Does It Help?
The concept of a rest day isn’t anything new. Athletes and people who exercise regularly take these regularly in order to give their bodies time to recover. They help the body get back to its normal energy levels, repair damaged cells, and more. In fact, you should even have rest days during intense exercise routines. Too much physical activity without a rest day can lead to over training, which has its own set of consequences that are just as bad as not exercising at all.
When you’re doing a lot of physical activity, it’s important to take these days because your body gets used to the activity. You could be running five miles every day or going to the gym several times per week.
Your body learns to adapt and it doesn’t require as much exertion. To counter this, you must change your routine every once in awhile. This could mean running farther or going to the gym more often.
Doesn’t This Defeat The Purpose?
Some people get really into their routines and don’t want to change anything. But this defeats the purpose of exercise altogether. The whole point is to challenge your body and give it a new experience! If you’re used to going on a five mile run, then try going for a ten mile run instead. Or add weights to your routine. If you’ve been biking to the gym, try driving your car there instead to mix things up.
Remember, these are all just suggestions. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
You need to find what works for you. Maybe you love biking and would rather continue doing that than drive your car to the gym. That’s fine! There’s no point in forcing yourself to do something you don’t want to do. You should only continue doing these activities if you genuinely want to.
The Do’s And Don’ts
There are some rules that one should follow when it comes to rest days. These rules can help you get the most out of your rest days and help you avoid over training or even injure yourself.
Do listen to your body. This one is pretty self-explanatory.
If you feel tired or exhausted, take a rest day. If you’re not feeling it one day, it might be best to reschedule your work out for another time.
Don’t change your routine drastically. This is sort of related to the first “do,” but it’s different.
Let’s say you run five miles every other day. It would be best not to try to run ten miles every day because your body isn’t used to that. Your muscles and body as a whole need time to recover after a certain amount of exertion.
Do challenge yourself. As stated earlier, your body gets used to whatever routine you have.
You have to change it up every once in awhile in order to continue seeing results. This could mean running farther, longer, or going to the gym more often.
Don’t over train. This is when you work out too much and your body can’t handle it.
This leads to over exertion, which is never a good thing. It can lead to serious health conditions that could put a hamper on your overall well-being.
Do rest. This is just as important as working out.
Your body needs time to recuperate and heal after a hard workout. Don’t just spend all day in bed though; do light activities like going for a walk or doing some chores around the house.
Don’t eat too much. A lot of people make the mistake of eating everything in sight after a hard workout.
While it’s okay to reward yourself, you don’t want to over do it. Otherwise, all that food will just go to waste and you’ll feel awful. Eat moderately and only eat what your body actually needs.
Do listen to what your body is telling you it needs. Sometimes we ignore the little signs our bodies give us when we’re tired or aching.
Next thing you know, you’re seriously injured and can’t do anything at all. If you’re feeling sore, take a rest day. If you’re feeling tired, sleep more. It’s that simple.
By following these simple rules, you’ll be able to continue your healthy lifestyle without getting hurt or over doing it. Your body is a temple and should be treated as such.
With a little dedication and hard work, you’ll be able to reach your goals. Good luck!
Sources & references used in this article:
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- Blood lactate clearance during active recovery after an intense running bout depends on the intensity of the active recovery (P Menzies, C Menzies, L McIntyre… – Journal of sports …, 2010 – Taylor & Francis)
- Performance for short intermittent runs: active recovery vs. passive recovery (G Dupont, N Blondel, S Berthoin – European journal of applied physiology, 2003 – Springer)
- Effects of active recovery on power output during repeated maximal sprint cycling (GC Bogdanis, ME Nevill, HKA Lakomy… – European journal of …, 1996 – Springer)
- Effects of active recovery on plasma lactate and anaerobic power following repeated intensive exercise. (S Ahmaidi, P Granier, Z Taoutaou… – Medicine and science …, 1996 – ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- Passive versus active recovery during high-intensity intermittent exercises (G Dupont, W Moalla, C Guinhouya… – Medicine & Science in …, 2004 – academia.edu)
- Effect of passive and active recovery on the resynthesis of muscle glycogen. (DH Choi, KJ Cole, BH Goodpaster, WJ Fink… – Medicine and science …, 1994 – europepmc.org)
- Glycogen synthesis in muscle fibers during active recovery from intense exercise. (TJ Fairchild, AA Armstrong, A Rao, H Liu… – … and Science in …, 2003 – europepmc.org)
- Lactate kinetics during passive and partially active recovery in endurance and sprint athletes (Z Taoutaou, P Granier, B Mercier, J Mercier… – European journal of …, 1996 – Springer)