We’ve all heard that we need at least one “rest” day a week to recover from the stress that exercise puts on our bodies, and many people actually take two or even three rest days depending on their schedule and workout routine. But what exactly is a rest day? And what are you supposed to do on a rest day? One thing is for sure — rest days AREN’T for sitting on the couch binge watching the latest Netflix drama or replacing healthy foods with “cheat” meals.
For one, eating cheat meals and sitting on the couch all day Saturday watching television and barely moving isn’t only not beneficial, it’s counterproductive. Just like your mind, your body needs stimulation. One of the most important aspects of recovery is getting enough nutrients to the muscles so that they can recover. Nutrients are delivered to the muscles through your blood, and blood reaches your muscles by being circulated through the body. Being immobilized on the couch hinders optimum blood flow. Instead, rest days should be active to promote recovery, mobility, and performance.
So what kinds of things can you do to stay active on rest days, but not over do it? Here’s some ideas:
- Meal prep. Shopping and cooking for the week is a great way to get moving and not overwork your muscles.
- Take a long walk. This is one of my favorites. In fact, I try to go for a decent walk almost every day (having two dogs helps with that!).
- Foam roll. Self-myofascial release is a great way to loosen up tight muscles and improve mobility. But make sure you’re doing it correctly! Always roll towards your heart / torso, not away from it. Rolling at a rate of about 1 inch per second is also a good guideline.
- Static stretch. Static stretching relieves tension in the muscles and improves flexibility, which helps prevent injuries. It also promotes blood flow. To get benefits from static stretching, you should hold each stretch for a minimum of 10 seconds, but ideally for 30-60 seconds.
- Dynamic stretch. Dynamic stretching also improves mobility and promotes blood flow. Dynamic stretches include movements like arm and hip circles, walking lunges, torso twists, and high knees.
- Do a fun activity. Do something active like playing with your dog and/or your kids, going to a festival, shopping, hiking, taking an art class – anything that gets you on your feet and that you enjoy.
- Easy yoga. A beginner or easy yoga class like Hatha yoga will get you moving and promote both flexibility and mobility similar to static and dynamic stretching.
- If you primarily lift weights or are more advanced, light cardio like a jog or bike ride is also a good option.
Any other ideas about rest day activities?? Let us know in the comments below! And don’t forget to like, comment on, and share if you enjoyed the article!