You're working out three, four, five days a week. You're eating all the right things. You feel good after your workouts thanks to endorphins, but you can't help but think that there's something missing (and not just because you're not seeing the results you want). Turns out you're doing everything right, but there's a tiny component missing: active recovery.
What's active recovery, you ask? Active recovery takes place on your rest days, and instead of not exercising at all, you exercise a little bit to help your muscles recover more quickly and push you toward your fitness goals. Francis Ramsden, owner and founder of Ramsden Elite Fitness in Pittsburgh, PA, compares active recovery to interest in a bank account.
"Simple things like taking the dog on a long walk, hiking, or kayaking on a lake compound over time just like money earns interest in the bank," Ramsden says. "Days, weeks, and months of these active rest days will result in exercise you otherwise would never have gotten."
In other words, active recovery is easy enough to do where it doesn't feel like you're working out, but it still counts toward upping your fitness game.
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The major benefits to active recovery are threefold according to certified personal trainer and strength coach Patrick Henigan. First, "it keeps your muscles stimulated, which promotes recovery." Second, it keeps your weight loss goals alive! "The more movement and activity [in your body,] the more weight you are going to lose. You burn more calories by being active." And the third benefit to active recovery? It combats soreness and fatigue, making your next tough workout easier.
Depending on your fitness level, your active recovery days can take up one or two days a week. However, you always need at least one full rest day every week.
Has active recovery made a big difference in your workout? We want to hear from you! Share your thoughts in the comments below.