Whether you are someone who hits the gym hard on a regular basis or someone who is trying to establish a workout routine, it’s important to think about how you are spending your rest days. When training the body to respond to activity, we have to train it even on the days that we aren’t doing our main workout routine. This is the same concept as separating upper and lower body workouts. On your recovery days, you should still be stretching and moving your body to ensure it doesn’t get too stiff before your next big workout. Stretching and light exercise can help your body heal after working it so hard. Your muscles will need time to recover and recuperate which will help you avoid injury and soreness. 

Walking and Staying Active

Think about taking on small, light impact workouts on your rest days. It’s an obvious choice, but walking is a great way to keep your blood moving on your rest days. “Walking is still one of the best ways to keep yourself active,” said Alvin Oommen, Founder + CEO at OXFORDhill. “Walking or biking to the grocery store instead of driving is a fantastic and easy way to include activity in your day without even thinking about it. Plus it will break up the energy of your day making you feel more ready to get back to your day once you return.” This is important because most focus on strength workouts rather than cardio. 

It’s not just about going lighter on rest days, it’s about having a fully balanced routine. “As part of a workout routine, you need to make sure you are staying active throughout your entire week. Daily walks and light cardio exercise like jogging are great ways to keep your body in shape and prepared to be active at all times,” says Chief Marketing Officer of Genexa Kelli Lane. Plus, it’s not just beneficial for your body. It’s also beneficial for your mind as Gabrielle Conforti of Outdoor Voices tells us. “Walking is a great way to do some active recovery on your rest days, and does wonders for your mental health. This is a great habit to put yourself in on your off days from your regular workout routine.”

Yoga and Stretching

Another great way to stay active is by taking on light workouts that focus on stretching, like yoga. “Yoga is a perfect exercise for your off days from working out,” Mike Clare, CEO of Mood Health offered. “It strengthens your core, stretches necessary muscle groups and serves a meditative function as well. This can be easily done at home with free yoga videos, or those with previous experience can come up with a routine at home.” Yoga has many benefits, including core strength training meaning that you’re accomplishing two things by doing one when you practice yoga on your rest days.

As with any practice, you need to make sure it becomes part of your routine. Nancy Belcher, CEO of Winona offered this advice, “Start every day with a stretching or yoga routine to wake yourself up every morning. This will help ease you from sleep into your active day and help your body feel more refreshed from the rest you just got.” Stretching is a great way to start the day and helps us shed any stiffness from our sleep or the day before. “Stretching on your rest days can help ease muscle soreness from strenuous exercise, plus improve your overall flexibility,” says Co-founder and CEO of Expectful Nathalie Walton. “You can also use a foam roller in your stretching routine as a form of self-massage to help reduce the pain and soreness in your muscles. Remember, keeping activity light and stretch-centered on your rest day can improve your performance on your training days.”


Active Recovery and Nourishment 

The concept of active recovery is that your body is healing after you work out. We put it under stress when we do intense activity, and while it needs time to recover, simply resting will cause more soreness and aches. This is because of lactic acid build up, and light exercise is a way to relieve those post workout pains. “Active recovery is key to helping your muscles recover. If you don’t stay active, you’ll feel much more sore than you would otherwise and your body won’t take to the training you’re working so hard to give it. These lighter workouts are key for actively resting,” said President and CEO of Healthy Directions Ben Teicher. Active recovery means using your body, and to continue using it, it needs necessary nutrition and hearty meals to keep going. OSDB CEO and Co-Founder Ryan Rottman had this to say “During your less active days, make sure you are nourishing yourself while your body recovers from exercise. Eat plenty of proteins and drink plenty of fluids to take care of your recovering body on your rest days.”

It’s not just your days off that you need to make sure you’re nourished. This is also an important habit to get into and stay into. “Make sure to eat regular meals and fuel your body, especially on your days off. Your body will be recovering and in need of nutrients and proteins to help yourself heal,” said Lauren Singer of Package Free Shop.

Biking, Swimming and Diet

Recovery can take a while, so you’ll want to have a few routines that you can cycle between to keep yourself active on your days off. “Recovering from intense workouts usually takes 24-48 hours, so it’s important to stay active and keep up with your nutritional habits. Low-impact workouts like yoga, swimming, or simply going for a walk all serve as great forms of ‘active recovery,’ which actually help your muscles recover faster than laying low,” said Founder, CEO and Head of Design at UNICO NUTRITION Lance Herrington. “Remember to stay consistent with a high-protein diet to provide your muscles with a steady stream of amino acids on those ‘off days’ – and consider a protein shake to get some high-quality protein in a pinch. Allowing your body to recover and repair through low-intensity exercises and nourishing the body correctly will give your muscles the energy they need to tackle your next workout.” 

These are great tips for staying consistent and keeping yourself interested in your workout habits. Swimming is an especially good workout that works the whole body. “Along with walking and biking, swimming is a great low impact workout that you can take part in on your rest days. Don’t push yourself too hard here and just enjoy your elevated heart rate and know that you’re keeping yourself in your routine,”  said Michael Hennessy, Founder and CEO of Diathrive.


Active recovery is key to building the strength and flexibility that your workouts should be moving towards. Make sure your muscles are getting time to rest, recuperate and stay lightly active even on your rest days. Small exercises like walking, swimming, biking and yoga can help your body stay fit, flexible, strong and ready to take on your next big workout challenge. Meeting your goals is all about taking care of yourself along the way, so make sure you are staying active on your rest days. 

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