You’ve probably felt this before.
You feel yourself slowing down. You’re lacking energy. Your post-workout soreness is taking much longer to go away. You just can’t meet your typical performance.
You know you need to rest. It’s obvious, but you still don’t want to.
We understand. There are many reasons why you may not feel like a rest day is an option. Exercise is important to you. It’s your stress relief and your confidence booster. It keeps you feeling fit and strong, and it’s the backbone to your daily routine. Why would you want to switch things up when things are going so well?
Well, there are a lot of reasons to take a rest day. If you’re a fitness enthusiast, you will probably recognize the signs. If you find that you’re lethargic and fatigued, you may be taxing your cardiovascular system too much. This can also lead to insomnia, mood swings, and soreness. But, most importantly, this can also lead to decreased athletic performance!
If you don’t want to see your performance take a nosedive it’s important to incorporate an occasional rest day into your routine. If, however, you’re not willing to take a completely sedentary day there are lots of ways to sneak a little bit of activity into your rest day. Here are our top 5 active rest day ideas:
1. Go for a walk
Walking is an oldie but a goodie. Slow, steady walking has a host of health benefits. From boosting your mood to getting your blood flowing, going for a long walk is a great way to keep active while still giving your body a break to recover.
Walking can be an especially great change of pace for runners and cyclists, letting you take in more information about your routes and experience your environment more fully. Taking the chance to fully explore your surroundings is a great way to mix up your routine and reconnect with your surroundings and activity.
Yoga is an interesting type of activity. With dozens of styles of yoga ranging from relaxing Yin flows to intense Vinyasa sequences there is a type of yoga for every person and every workout style. Switching a day of cardio or strength training for yoga can be a great way to reconnect with your body, stretch out tight muscles, and prevent injury.
Athletes know that stretching is an integral part of unlocking their best performance. Tight quads or hamstrings can cause soreness or injuries that can take weeks to heal. Still, stretching is often an afterthought. A couple half-hearted stretches probably aren’t enough to keep you at the top of your game.
By adding yoga into your rest days you can kill two birds with one stone. Give your body and muscles the rest they need to recover while getting serious stretching and flexibility training. Add that to the meditative benefits of yoga and you’ve got a killer active rest day.
Cycling is an amazing, adaptable, low-impact sport. Whether you’re a touring fanatic, casual commuter, or cycling newbie a bike ride can adapt to your timeframe and fitness level. While it might be better for everyday cyclists to choose another activity for their rest days to give those bike riding muscles a rest, other athletes can benefit from cycling as an active rest option.
Because cycling can go from leisurely to intense very quickly it is important to make sure that you are keeping an eye on your heart rate during these rest rides. You want to keep them leisurely, avoid straining too hard or raising your heart rate too high in order to ensure that you give your heart the rest it needs.
4. Foam Rolling
While foam rolling might not be the first activity you associate with rest, it can be a great addition to your recovery routine. Foam rolling is a great way to loosen knots, reconnect with your body, and stretch out your facia. While foam rolling may not raise your heart rate significantly, it will get you moving. It’s a productive use of your time, and a great way to get your body back in gear and ready for your more intense activities.
Think of foam rolling as a much more painful version of yoga. Flexibility training, mind-body connection and injury prevention that you can definitely feel working.
Swimming is a tricky rest day activity. While swimming is low-impact, it can also be especially taxing if you’re not a regular swimmer. Still, the benefits of getting in the water and moving your body are too numerous to leave swimming off the list. If you’re using swimming as a rest day activity, keep it light. Avoid intense laps, and favour slower and easier strokes. Your body will thank you. Swimming can be a fun and simple way of staying active while resting up.
So, it’s finally time to take that rest day!
Even though it can be hard to take a day off, your body will thank you. Combining your high-intensity activity with periodic rest days is a great way to keep your body happy, reduce the risk of injury, and create sustainable workout habits.