If you work out much at all, you’ve heard about rest days and likely ignored or abused them. Rest days are those with a light workout, some relaxation techniques, or maybe some active recovery movements meant to improve form or range of motion. Here are a few activities you can work into your daily routine, plus some specific rest day activities that will help you become more fit while avoiding injury, illness and stress.
Every day is an opportunity to rest and recover. Getting enough restorative sleep is essential for good health. Different life stages require different amounts of sleep each night to allow full recovery. Any woman with a young child can attest that less than 10 hours of sleep a night for her child means a long, emotional day will follow. A grown person’s need for sleep may not total 10 hours, but a lack of adequate rest can certainly lead to emotional volatility and an inability to handle normal levels of stress.
Rest days aren’t all about lack of movement. They can also be an opportunity to perfect form using bodyweight exercises, to increase range of motion through targeted and controlled stretching movements or yoga, or to use tools like foam rollers to loosen up tight muscles and connective tissues. Even swimming and massage are forms of active recovery that can be beneficial as part of a balanced workout and recovery schedule.
These are the rest days we need rarely. Passive recovery days involve no intentional exercise and are the perfect days for meditation. Schedule passive rest days as needed to allow your mind and body a break from the stress hormones and inflammation that even moderate exercise can produce in our bodies.
Think of active and passive rest days as “reset” days and commit to full recovery. Your workouts on the days that follow will be more effective, and you’ll have more energy and fewer injuries if you incorporate intentional rest into your exercise routine.
Your body works hard, and it deserves a break now and then. Don’t skip those rest days!
If you need help getting that rest and sleep – be sure to check out our upcoming Yoga for Sleep event!