Do You Need an ‘Active Recovery’ Workout?

Do You Need an 'Active Recovery' Workout?

Having a recovery day as part of your workout routine is important. As much as you might love zoning out during your weekly evening runs or enjoy the “high” you get from your morning spin classes, your body needs rest between intense exercise sessions so that your muscles can repair and strengthen, and so you can take it easy because you’re not a machine.

While some people prefer completely resting their bods once or twice a week while chilling out to Netflix, there are others who love to stay active no matter what — even on their recovery days. Which is why implementing an active recovery workout as part of your exercise routine might be right up your alley.

What’s an Active Recovery Workout?

An active recovery is simply an easier workout compared to your other workouts. It’s less intense and not as long. It’s usually at a low to moderate level, so you’re only going about 60 to 70% of your maximum effort. For example, if you’re training for a 10K race, on an active recovery day, your workout might be a 3K light jog or brisk walk. If you’re a heavy weightlifter, you might opt for a yoga class to help with flexibility on your active recovery day.

The Benefits

Since the purpose of an active recovery workout is for you to slow it down, you can use it as an opportunity to focus on your form. If you’re a runner, you might want to check out your gait during a light jog. A dedicated yogi might try a Yin class to focus on what it means to really relax into a pose.

A psychological component is also a huge benefit. Changing up your physical activity level gives you a nice mental break while also elevating your mood because, as most of us know, exercise = endorphins.

And, of course, if you’re looking to lose weight, an active recovery day helps you to burn some calories, which is better than none.

Examples of Active Recovery Workouts

Any type of movement that allows you to slow it down while still elevating your heart rate could be considered an active recovery.

Some great examples include:

Yoga — an amazing mobility exercise that can help improve flexibility and strengthen muscles and joints.

Walking — a low-impact cardiovascular exercise that not only helps get you moving, burn calories, but also gives you that added benefit of being outdoors, which instantly lifts your mood.

Lightweight training — use weights that are 30% lesser than what you would normally use with high reps while focusing on form and perform one set until failure.

Self -Myofascial release (SMR) — foam rolling or using a lacrosse ball is an excellent way to massage your muscles, improve your range of motion, and help improve stiffness from hardcore training.

The Takeaway

If you’re someone who likes to go all out during your sweat sessions or hates the idea of not moving, then an active recovery workout is just what the doctor ordered. Just remember to take it nice and easy with your workout — it is meant to help you “rest,” remember?

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Brianne Hogan

Writer

Writer, personal trainer, healthy eating coach, vegetarian, Oprah devotee, overall wellness freak. Brianne's byline has been featured on HelloGiggles, Elle Canada, Flare, Thrillist, among others. Check out her online training programs at: briannehoganfitness.com