Just over half of all Americans exercise at least three days a week. Whether you're a triathlete, a dancer, a marathoner, or simply someone who likes to work out, you know how good it feels to get in your regular sweat sessions.
However, as someone who loves to move, it can be hard to factor rest and recovery into your fitness schedule. But it would be a huge mistake to leave out vital rest for athletes from your regimen.
You can still move on your days off—active recovery helps muscles bounce back, and research has shown that it helps build endurance and stamina for example. It helps clear lactic acid from the muscles, too, so that you can get back out there and compete at your best.
Here's how to get in your active recovery between workouts.
An ice bath is one form of active recovery that can really soothe your muscles. That's because the cold temperatures stop inflammation in its tracks. That way, you won't feel as sore the day after working out.
Plus, when you get in cold water, your blood vessels constrict. This purges metabolic waste after a workout, which helps your muscles to recover and feel less sore faster.
Finally, ice baths can boost your metabolism, help you sleep better, and strengthen your immune system, too. All of those side effects help you become an even better athlete.
Some experts say that the best form of active recovery is walking. It's a gentle form of exercise, so you can feel good that you got some movement in. However, it's gentle on joints and muscles, meaning you will be able to jump back into your workout routine the next day.
As previously mentioned, walking helps your muscles to flush lactic acid. It also keeps them limber, so they don't tighten up and prevent a workout the next day.
Investing in a massage gun is excellent for your fitness routine. You can use it before a workout to warm up your body, and you can use it afterward to kickstart your recovery.
After a workout, using your massage gun turns on your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps your body begin to rest and relax. Spend between 1.5 and 2 minutes per muscle group that you worked to help your inflamed muscles calm down and start to recover.
Prioritize Rest and Recovery
As you can see, recovering and resting after exercising is vital to any regimen. So, as you plan your workouts for the next few days, weeks, or months, don't forget to leave at least one day a week for rest and recovery. Your body will be better for it—and your training will be, too.