4 Ways to Make The Most of Your Rest Days
Susan Hoff
October 15, 2021

Days off at the gym don't have to be spent on the couch!

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For those of us who love the feeling of sweat dripping off of us from all angles and don't like to take a day off from the grind, rest days can seem impossible to manage. But, we have to remember how necessary they are. Our muscles need the time off so that they can repair.

When you exercise, you are creating small tears along your muscles. With the proper rest, your muscles will build themselves back—leaner and stronger. Without the rest, you are hindering your progress and putting yourself at risk for injury.

Fear not: rest days do not have to be sedentary days. This is where we get the term "active rest." When incorporating active rest days into your week, think about lowering the intensity of your normal workout by 75%. You are working at a slower pace, not trying to make any gains, but increasing the blood flow in your body to expedite recovery. The extra oxygen pumping through your body can also help decrease the amount of soreness you feel.

Below are four ways you can spend your active rest days.

1. Yoga

I'm not talking power yoga or hot yoga. I'm talking restorative yoga that slows you down, betters your breathing patterns, and increases your flexibility and balance. Practice an easy flow with light stretching and little sweating. One that stretches out the muscles you have been working so hard on. It should feel relaxing and rejuvenating—not taxing.

2. Walk

Call a friend or grab the dog leash and head outside for a walk. Keep it on the shorter side, around 30 minutes, and you will feel the physical and mental benefits quickly. An after-work walk can help detangle your thoughts and clear your head for a more present evening with the family. The easy movement also increases your circulation and eases the physical tension that yesterday's workout accrued.

3. Foam Roll

Foam rolling is like a deep tissue massage on your sore and tight muscles. It helps relieve inflammation and regain a regular range of motion. The first couple of rolls may hurt a little, but keep rolling over the sore area and you will feel the muscle release and relax into this SMR technique. The more you foam roll, the sooner you will decrease next-day soreness and increase overall physical performance.


4. Play

What are some of your favorite hobbies? Take an hour out of your day and enjoy the movement and activity without the stress of goals or reps or sets. You're moving to play. You're enjoying the outdoors. You're taking it easy. Here are a few active hobbies that you can try if you're new to the idea.

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