What is an Active Rest Day? (And Why It’s Important)
When it comes to exercise, you’re probably one of two types of people.
Type 1 is the person who sorta, kinda, really, seriously hates exercise. You’ll do it because you know it’s good for you, but you don’t have any trouble taking days off.
Then there’s type 2. The person who lives for a good, hard workout. If you feel like the gym, or the mat, or whatever your physical activity of choice is your happy place, and you struggle to step away and recover at least one day per week, then you fall into this category.
Regardless of which type you are, you will probably benefit from adding active rest days into your weekly programming.
Here, we’ll talk about what all an active rest day entails, why it’s beneficial, and give you a few ideas so that you can plan your next one.
What exactly is an active rest day?
Unlike a passive rest day, which usually involves binge-watching Netflix and getting caught up on laundry, and an active rest day is an opportunity to get moving at a much lower intensity than you would otherwise achieve during your workouts.
Focus on getting to no more than 60 percent of your maximum effort in whatever activity you choose, and select something that otherwise compliments your routine.
For example, if you’re part of our fitness challenge group, you might want to add in some flexibility work to keep your muscles long and limber on our off days.
Why do you need an active rest day every week?
Your body will adapt and become fitter over time, but to do so, it needs time to rest between intense sessions so that it can repair and build stronger muscles. If you keep it in a state of constant stress without active rest and complete rest days, you might find that you stall out on your results.
This lower intensity work, unlike when you rest your muscles and joints completely, actually works to increase blood flow to your tissues and muscles which can speed up your recovery time.
This added circulation boost delivers important nutrients to your cells and flushes out waste too. This cleanses you of toxins like lactic acid that could lead to fatigue or muscle damage over time.
And those are just the physical benefits. Mentally, active rest days let you dial down your intensity without having to miss out on physical activity altogether. If you’re someone who feels like a good workout keeps you sane, this is a great way to find that balance.
Active Rest Day Ideas
Looking for some fun and creative activities to do on an active rest day? Here are a few of our favorites.
- Walk or Hike through a nearby park
- Water Aerobics
- Foam Rolling
- Play on the playground with your kids
Remember, the goal of an active rest day is to get moving and to get your blood pumping, but not to work so hard that your muscles are burning or that you're out of breath.
Pick an activity you love or have always wanted to try and make it into a fun way to incorporate fitness in your everyday life. Bonus points if you grab your significant other or family and make it a group activity you can all enjoy.