Active recovery can make you stronger
Yep, it’s true. But unfortunately, most people prescribe to the idea that if a little bit of exercise is good, then more is better. They push hard and go hard, believing a day off is a waste of time, or, even better, a day off is for the weak.
Benefits of Active Recovery
- The magic happens during recovery. It gives your body time to adapt to the stress of your training load.
- Reduces post-exercise soreness and stiffness.
- Reduces fatigue.
- Increases blood flow to the joints and muscles and removes metabolic waste build-up from intense training sessions. The increased circulation brings new blood and nutrients into your muscles; this may also reduce inflammation.
- A lower training heart rate allows your body to recover.
- Prevents burn out or overtraining. It keeps you in the game.
- Allows recovery time for mental and emotional wellness.
- Prevents injuries and illnesses.
- Helps to bust through plateaus.
- A recovered body can bounce back and push hard during the next training session.
How intense is an active recovery day
The work effort on your active recovery day should be no more than 70% of max-effort or a perceived effort (on a scale of 1-10) of 4-6. If you are fatigued, take it easy, don’t take it much higher than your resting heart rate.
Pay attention to your breathing. Avoid the temptation to push hard, being uncomfortable with forced or labored breathing. Your active recovery workout should feel like a relaxed and mild effort, with a slight increase with your breath.
The goal is to get things moving, keep the workout short and sweet, which allows the body to get the much-needed rest and repair it requires to stay healthy and to continue pushing hard.
Seven great ways to get you started
- Be playful and head to the pool for water walking or grab flotation and have fun in the deep end.
- Take it to the floor for a muscle releasing session of foam rolling and stretching.
- Catch up with a friend on an outdoor walk or bike ride.
- Short on time? Head to the gym for a quick and easy workout on the rower, elliptical, stair stepper, etc.
- Enjoy a dose of mind, body, and soul healing in a morning yoga class.
- Focus on your core in a Pilates mat or Reformer class.
- And, a fan favorite, grab your TRX for a short but effective strength and stretch workout.
Get at least 7-9 hours of sleep each night. A good night of rest allows the body time to repair and rejuvenate. With enough rest, it will be easier to bounce back from an intense workout.
Create consistency in your sleeping habits. Here are a few suggestions:
- Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day.
- Avoid TV and reading from a blue screen device at least 2 hours before bedtime.
- Avoid simulates (sugar, coffee, alcohol, etc.) at least four hours before bedtime.
- Make your bedroom cozy, comfy, and dark.
Keep your nutrition plan simple. Focus on eating more veggies, fruit, complex carbs, protein, and healthy fats (example: avocado, olive oil, olives, nuts, seeds, etc.) and less packaged foods, sugar, sugary beverages, and alcohol.
Keep in mind; you’re eating to fuel your active lifestyle. Pay attention and listen to your body; it will tell you what it needs.
Check your urine. If your urine is dark yellow (it should be pale yellow), you may need to drink more water. Start by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water and see how you feel. You may need more or less depending on body size, amount of activity, etc.
Common signs of dehydration:
headache, muscle cramping, reduced cognitive and motor skills, decreased focus and clarity, change in mood or memory, feeling sleepy, cold, tired, constipated, or dizzy.
If you’re feeling any symptoms of dehydration, avoid diuretics like coffee and alcohol. Instead, grab a glass of water or a beverage with electrolytes (sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, chloride) to rehydrate.
Before you burn out, quit, get injured, or sick, add an active recovery day to your training program. You’ll be happy you did.
If you enjoyed this post, please share it with a friend. Who knows, an active recovery day might be the medicine they need.
If you are interested in adding an active recovery day to your routine but don’t know where to start, please reach out. I would love to help, support, and motivate you on this new adventure.
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