To feel and perform your best, you need to rest! This is true for all fitness levels - from highly trained professional athletes and Olympians to beginner fitness enthusiasts.
Proper rest isn't simply laying on the couch (though that certainly could be a part of it!). If you are exercising regularly, you should have a holistic recovery plan that considers:
-Physical recovery: passive and active recovery activities
-Nutrition & hydration
Recovery is one of the single most important elements of your exercise routine. Even if you're enjoying movement and feeling results, you should never neglect rest! In fact, you can only get closer to your fitness goals and continue moving by recovering with intention.
WHY? Proper rest allows your muscles to recover which in turn prevents injuries. It also prevents physical and mental fatigue, which helps keep you feeling inspired to keep on moving! Otherwise, you could burn out and fall completely off of your fitness routine.
Read on to learn about the different elements of rest and recovery, and how you can incorporate them into your routine!
There are two different types of physical recovery: passive and active. Active recovery means staying physically active with lower intensity movements. Passive recovery, on the other hand, doesn't require any physical activity.
The amount and recovery type you need will be unique to your level of activity and lifestyle. Ultimately, listen to your body! It will give you the cues do to what's best for you.
For example, if you are injured or slept poorly, passive recovery should be your choice.
Examples of passive recovery activities:
-Taking a bath
-Going for a sauna
-Using a sensory deprivation tank
-Taking the day off completely
But, If you're feeling just a bit of muscle soreness, go for active recovery instead of a full-on workout. Just like pro hockey players will hop on the exercise bike after an intense game, light effort movement can actually help you recover more quickly. When you've done a lot of intense training, lactic acid builds up in the muscles - that what makes you sore. Help ease the soreness but redistributing blood flow throughout the body.
Try some steady state (maintain low to light moderate effort) recovery cardio: -Swimming
Active recovery examples:
-Stretching and mobility
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Your mental health is an important factor in your physical health. It should be prioritized!
Simone Biles, the elite gymnast, served as a stellar example of this when she withdrew from the Tokyo Olympics mid-competition in 2021, citing her mental health. She said, "I have to put my pride aside. I have to do what's right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being.”
While the mental health benefits of movement are ever-growing, there are, of course, exceptions. If you are feeling mentally burnt out from life or overtraining, it's time to take a step back. Instead, opt for a full-on rest day (passive recovery) or mindful active recovery activities such as yoga instead of pushing your body to perform. It's okay to take time to relax and unwind! You'll come back feeling so much stronger.
NUTRITION TO REFUEL & REPLENISH
Recovery isn't limited to active and passive activities - a nourishing nutrition plan should be a priority too!
Hydration - Hydrating your body with water is important every day, but it should be even more of a priority when you are exercising. Hydration needs vary from person to person and day to day, but generally speaking, you should aim to drink 2-4 liters of water per day.
Make sure to have 0.5 to 1 cups of water before your workout, as well as after. During a workout, you should be taking sips of water every 10-15minutes. Yes! Lots of water. When you sweat you lose water so make sure to replenish to keep your body functioning optimally.
Protein - Protein is essential for helping your muscles repair, and helps support muscle growth. Get your protein fix within 2 hours after your workout.
We want to hear from you! What does your workout recovery plan consist of? Share it in a comment below!