Your complete guide to rest and recovery and why you need it

Hanging up your boots to take time to rest is one of the hardest things to do as an active person. You think every day is the perfect time to get out there, hit your fitness goals, and get your blood pumping. However, allowing your body to rest and, more importantly, recover between workouts is an essential part of an effective workout routine.

If you’ve ever walked into the gym the next day not feeling your best – sore, tired, and sore – you’ll know that’s how your body tells you to stay away from the gym. sport for a while to allow him to recuperate. . Continuing to exercise ignoring your body’s cue could become detrimental to your health and fitness goals.

Why is regular rest important?

Rest days are as critical as the exercise itself. Whatever your goal, rest will allow you to see maximum results. Short-term recovery between workouts/workouts is essential in your fitness journey. It helps maintain and improve your level of fitness and helps prevent injuries at all points. This can involve a lower intensity recovery phase after a workout, especially after high intensity workouts, as well as your daily activities until the next workout. All actions performed during this time are essential to replenish energy and fluids lost during exercise and total body recovery.

An ideal rest day differs from person to person and depends on the frequency and intensity of exercise and activities performed by the individual after each workout. The American Council on Exercise recommends a minimum of one day of rest for every seven to ten days of high-intensity physical activity.

A man, his eyes closed, resting on a gray sofa, his hands behind his neck.

Rest days don’t necessarily mean you don’t have to do anything. Instead, the goal is to improve recovery, which can be passive or active. Passive recovery means you take the whole day off, while active recovery will involve low-intensity activities, such as yoga or walking, that put minimal stress on the body.

6 ways to improve your recovery

Sleep

The quality and quantity of sleep during short-term recovery time is critical to maintaining overall health and well-being. Many people are okay with this but fail to prioritize it. The truth is that sleep is very important. Studies suggest that while the wake cycle is designed for repetitive glycogen breakdown, sleep helps replenish glucose stores in neurons. Since exercise uses adenosine triphosphate (ATP) in the production of energy for muscle contraction during a workout, it leaves the muscle fatigued, making recovery necessary. Sleep is a great way to help replenish any lost energy stores that allow for additional muscle growth, improved performance, and the ability to fully benefit from exercise. Additionally, the body releases growth hormones during sleep, which aid in tissue repair and building.

Side profile of a man in a light blue shirt sleeping with his mouth slightly open.

The physical exertion that loads the body’s cells, tissues and systems can be taken care of simply by sleeping. However, good sleep hygiene is necessary to get the most out of your sleep. This will include an appropriate sleeping environment (dark and cool with little to no noise), avoiding alcohol and caffeine before bed, putting away all electronic devices (TVs, phones, and computers), and participating in activities that help you to relax, like taking a bath or reading.

Foam rolling and stretching

Warming up and cooling down when you exercise is key to preventing injury, minimizing soreness, and properly acclimating your heart rate. Two amazing ways to do this on your own are foam rolling and stretching!

Muscle soreness is an indication that your muscles and fascia are becoming tight and knotted, and foam rolling massages these muscles, allowing the release of tension and tightness. Try spending five to ten minutes using a foam roller on all the muscles you focused on during your workout. If you make it a regular practice, you will feel less and less pain despite the intensity of your workouts. Plus, foam rollers come in different shapes and sizes, so there’s bound to be one that’s right for you!

A man balancing on one leg on a road with mountain views.

Stretching also works to neutralize stiffness and muscle tension. It’s a way to bring the muscle back to its ideal state of relaxation. It can be dynamic (involving movement) or static – both work to increase blood flow and joint range of motion.

You can do stretches and foam rolls separately, or these can be combined and done before and after a workout. Plus, performing them before bed can help you get the most out of your sleep!

Meditation

Emotional health is an integral part of your overall well-being. Meditation is a fantastic tool for removing emotional stress that comes in the form of anxiety, tension, and worry. Meditation is a type of interrelated mind-body medicine that aids in relaxation, provides peace of mind, and improves emotional and physical well-being.

African american man in green shirt and gray shorts meditating on yoga mat in living room.

In order to get the most out of your meditation sessions, make sure that:

  • You are in a quiet place with no distractions
  • You adopt a comfortable position
  • You take deep, regular breaths
  • Your attention is focused and your mind is clear

Active rest days

This is to activate your recovery time. Active rest days involve low-intensity exercise that keeps blood flowing and helps your muscles recover. Activities include low impact exercises such as swimming, yoga, hiking, biking, and myofascial release with a foam roller. Of course, you can also do any low-intensity sport you like to do!

A man doing a closed eyes warrior pose in the living room.

Active rest days are considered safe unless you suspect you may have an injury, are in pain, or are physically or mentally fatigued. It might be best for you to stick to passive rest activities in one of these cases.

Stress management

Performing activities of daily living involves physical and mental effort that can stress you out. These conditions, in turn, can be associated with various psychological and physical health problems. Stress management techniques are therefore adaptations necessary for effective management of daily constraints.

A bespectacled man in casual clothes sitting next to his dog on the floor.

Start by identifying your most present stressors, then create boundaries by making sure you dedicate space by establishing a balance. Next, focus on living a balanced life. This can happen by managing your time, making time to socialize with friends, eating a balanced diet and having fun – do what relieves you of stressors.

Nutrition

Nutrition is fundamental to keep your body functioning optimally, and every active person needs the proper fuel. This means your body has the right energy to do the job, ensuring you stay healthy and injury-free.

A man in a red and blue striped long sleeved shirt prepares healthy food in his kitchen.

Your nutrition should be a balanced composition of macronutrients, namely carbohydrates, proteins and fats. Complex carbs, a variety of lean proteins, and healthy fats will help reduce inflammation from working out. Make sure your calories match your total daily energy expenditure to feel energized and full. While calorie deficits are necessary at certain times in your life, too severe a deficit can put the body under a lot of stress and prevent proper recovery. Contact a nutritionist or dietitian for advice on what you should eat.

Work hard, rest hard: never take rest and recovery for granted

A man in a blue shirt and navy blue shorts jogging on a road with trees and a lawn in the background.

You may have thought that true dedication to your fitness goals means you never take a day off. We hope this article has helped you to show that this is a myth! You really shouldn’t neglect rest and recovery if you’re going to get the most out of your goals, and rest days are a perfect way to see the best results from your workout routine.

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