Once you get in the habit of working out regularly, it’s generally a good idea to build rest days into your weekly routine to give your muscles ample time to recover and rebuild. Rest days also reduce your risk of injury while working out. However, as beneficial as they are, rest days shouldn’t be an excuse to lounge on the couch all day! In fact, I recently read an article and discovered that active rest, or moderately exercising your muscles, the day after a tough workout has several benefits:
1. It aids in muscle recovery, by sending additional blood and nutrients to muscles that were damaged by the previous days workout.
2. It helps reduce lactate levels, by increasing blood circulation in the muscle, more effectively than total rest.
3. It improves performance levels. (Stack)
Active rest can include any physical activity that isn’t too strenuous. Examples include:
- gardening or light yard work
- leisurely biking
- brisk walking
- stretching sequences
Whatever your “rest” of choice, be sure to follow these guidelines:
1. Practice active rest 1-3 days per week for a minimum of 20 minutes.
2. Keep your exertion level about 65% of your maximum heart rate (or light enough for you to maintain a conversation easily during the activity).
3. Choose a different activity than you normally do, to activate different muscle groups.
Active rest and recovery days are beneficial for everyone from bodybuilders to athletes to the everyday active person! You don’t have to sit out on your next rest day, get moving to recover and rebuild those muscles!