When working towards an exercise goal, it can be easy to get carried away into an always-on-the-go routine. But bodies aren’t made to go full speed 100% of the time. Incorporating recovery and rest time into your routine is a must to stay healthy. In fact, your body will actually bounce back quicker and come back stronger after being treated to a recovery period.
When talking about recovery, this doesn’t mean taking a full-stop approach. There is still an opportunity to be active during this period of time. Active recovery is the idea of less intense movement than your regular, more strenuous workout days. The increased circulation with active recovery boosts oxygen and nutrients to your muscles in repair. It also helps reduce lactic acid buildup in muscles and eliminate toxins to keep your muscles flexible and reduce soreness.
Types of Active Recovery
Stretching can be the easiest part of fitness to skip but is one of the most beneficial to include.
Using your recovery days to stretch will benefit you by improving flexibility over time, range of motion, posture, achiness, bettering circulation, and helping to avoid muscle imbalances that can lead to injury. At the very least, include stretching as your active recovery on an off day, but stretching before and after an intense workout will always be beneficial as well.
Yoga is a great mental and physical practice to incorporate into your active recovery. It has many of the same physical benefits as stretching, such as flexibility, strength, mobility, and balance improvements. The added mental practice of yoga allows bodies to slow down, destress, relax, increase focus, and feel a deeper connection to the world around us. We are currently offering in-person and virtual yoga classes for members to begin taking an all-encompassing mind, body, and spirit approach to their exercise routine.
It can be great to “feel the burn” after an intense workout, but the following days can be uncomfortable and sore if your muscles aren’t treated properly. Foam rolling can help relieve muscle tightness, inflammation, and also increase your range of motion. For the best results, do some foam rolling exercises immediately after an intense workout and on your off days.
Massage therapy is an integrative medicine practice that works to target specific ailments an individual could have. There are many different types of massage practices, but generally, massage therapists will manipulate muscles, tendons, and ligaments in different parts of the body with different ranges of pressure. The benefits of massage therapy are also both physical and mental in practice. Physically, massage therapy improves circulation, lowers heart rate, nerve pain, joint pain, and reduces lactic acid buildup. Mentally, taking a pause to enjoy massage therapy is known to reduce anxiety, stress, headaches, insomnia, and increase your overall happiness.
Swimming is one of the greatest low-impact recovery exercises because the water does not cause additional stress to joints and muscles and is known to actually lower inflammation. When thinking about swimming as an active recovery exercise, it’s not always about the number of laps swam, or goals accomplished.
Swimming is a great way to relax and enjoy your time spent in the water, whether or not you are doing a more intense workout such as water aerobics. As an active recovery practice, whatever you choose to do can be done at your own pace and is always beneficial because you are stretching as you move within the water and flushing out the lactic acid buildup in your muscles.
Listen to your body
If you are feeling fatigued, listen to your body! You may need to work in a passive recovery (little to no movement) day here and there to combat injury or take a mental reset. But the above exercises are some of the best ways to slow down while staying healthy and active.
Getting a good night’s sleep and staying hydrated in between exercising will also go a long way in keeping your mind and body working at their best! Whichever method of active recovery you choose will be advantageous to your exercise routine.