Rest Days: Improve Your Workouts with Purposeful Rest

To improve your workouts is to have purposeful rest days, but many of us tend to ignore or even abuse these crucial days. 

Rest days incorporate light workout, relaxation techniques, or active recovery movements that improve form or range of motion. 

When you push through each day with a vigorous workout routine, and no rest, it can lead to muscle fatigue, a symptom that decreases your muscles’ ability to perform over time. Basically, your body is exhausted. 

On the other hand, abusing rest days where your rests heavily outweigh your daily activity, isn’t practical either. So, balance your weeks with the right amount of workouts and rest. 

Below are rest day activities you can work into your routine that can help you become more fit while avoiding injury, illness, and stress.

Active recovery

Rest Days, Active Recovery, light workouts

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 such as yoga or foam rolling 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.

Passive recovery

Rest days, passive recovery, no workouts

Passive recovery days involve no intentional exercise and are the perfect days for meditation. 

If you are usually on-the-go or tend to put your body through physical stress, schedule passive rest days. Give your mind and body a break from stress hormones and inflammation that even moderate exercise can produce in our bodies.


rest days, sleep

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 for a full recovery. 

Anyone with a young child can attest that less than 10 hours of sleep a night for their child means a long, emotional day will follow. An adult’s need for sleep may not total 10 hours, but a lack of adequate rest can undoubtedly lead to emotional volatility and an inability to handle reasonable levels of stress.

Think of active and passive rest days as “reset” days and allow your body to fully recover from physical and mental stress. By incorporating intentional rest, your workouts on the days that follow will be more powerful, and you’ll have more energy and fewer injuries.

Your body works hard, and it deserves a break now and then. Don’t skip those rest days!

Anschutz Health and Wellness Center