What is Active Recovery? Do I Need It?
“Fitness is a lifelong journey.” I realized the aptness of that statement last week when I first learned about active recovery. What’s a bit weird is that I’ve been running and working out since late 2009 but just recently learned about active recovery days (I previously completely rested in between consecutive runs and workouts). Hey, you learn something new each day. 🙂
So what is it?
According to Coach Jenny Hadfield of Runner’s World, active recovery – like rest – is a tool individuals use to achieve their fitness goals. You need to have both active recovery days and rest days for your body to recover and get stronger from strenuous physical activities and hard workouts. I personally think of active recovery as “workout lite.” You’re still moving but at an easier intensity just to get your blood flowing to your muscles.
Do I need it?
The short answer is yes, especially if want your body to optimally recover. Just as a machine won’t survive the long haul if it’s always on overdrive, so can’t your body function optimally if you don’t allow it sufficient time to recover. If you subject your body to physically taxing activities a few days a week, don’t forget to diversify a bit by adding relaxing variations in the mix too.
Recommended active recovery activities
On your active recovery days, do any of the following for around 20-45 minutes:
Jog at a relaxed pace around your neighborhood or join a fun run.
Shoot free throws with a friend.
Play catch with your kids.
Swim a few leisurely laps.
Practice a recovery yoga routine. I’ve tried these two and I find them really relaxing (especially the first one which made me sleepy afterward!):
That part where she places one foot over the calf of the opposite leg? I must admit that I wasn’t able to do that! I also think it’s best to skip the full wheel and just do another bridge if you’re a yoga newbie.
Yoga for all levels
The overall idea is to move but not to the point of being competitive. An active recovery workout should leave you feeling happy and invigorated. If you wake up and decide to just relax though, that’s also okay. 🙂 Go ahead and catch up on the latest episode of your fave TV show. Read that book you bought last year. Check out that interesting beauty product you found online. As the above photo states, rest is part of the equation!
Do you practice active recovery? Do you have a favorite active recovery routine? Do share!
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Information from Coach Jenny Hadfield of Runner’s World.
Some of the active recovery ideas are from Train Heroic.