What are “Active Recovery Days” (and how to get the most out of them)?

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If you’re just getting started with an exercise program, you know you can’t work out every day. It’s generally recommended to take a day off between intense workouts to reduce fatigue and give your muscles time to repair themselves. However, not every recovery day requires total rest..

If you’re dreading the idea of ​​a completely passive rest day, here’s what to know about asset recovery days and how you can make the most of them.

What is active recovery?

Not to be confused with a cooldown after your workout, active recovery is a low-intensity activity. Active and passive recovery is necessary to improve recovery and performance. But instead of resting on the couch all day (which can be great!), you work your muscle groups to promote recovery.

Whatever you do on your active recovery days should feel noticeably easier than your standard workouts. You want to make sure you’re focusing on the “recovery” part of it all, and that you don’t do so much that you don’t interfere with your main workouts.

Ideas for active recovery days

One of the benefits of active recovery days is the ability to incorporate activities that are different from your main routine. For runners, this can be light strength training; for weightlifters, that might mean light cardio. Here are some examples of active recovery exercises:

  • Walk or jog
  • Swim
  • Water jogging
  • Yoga
  • tai chi
  • Bike
  • Zumba or dance
  • Escalation

Whatever activity you choose, you shouldn’t be working at maximum effort. Be mindful, take it slow, and don’t accidentally find yourself pushing too hard.

Make sure you take it slow

Part of perfecting active recovery days is learning to calibrate your own sense of effort. One person’s light jog may be another’s long run that week. Remember: the goal of this day is to give your body a break before returning to higher intensity levels in your training.

Active recovery days are fantastic opportunities to take a mental break from your training plan. Try something new and listen to your body to make sure you’re not pushing yourself too hard by mistake. And if you’re injured, in pain, or very tired, your body may need passive recovery instead.

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