How to Stay Mobile on Rest Days
The problem with working out hard every day is that it never gives your
muscles a chance for recovery. So taking rest days is crucial.
But there’s a difference between rest days and cheat days. And if you’re
spending too much of your rest day binge watching Hulu, it’s easy to start
snacking, slacking off, and just plain losing momentum.
That’s why it’s important to stay mobile on rest days. At least somewhat. It’s
all part of active recovery.
What Is Active Recovery?
Your muscles need time to recover after being heavily worked. And
movement is the best way to do this. Seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?
Well, whenever you exercise, you’re boosting the blood flow to your
muscles. The idea behind active recovery is performing exercises that are
active enough to get the blood flowing, but gentle enough so that you allow
your muscles to heal .
So by moving your body in some fashion during rest days, you’re not only
reducing soreness, but also speeding up your recovery. Plus, by planning
even a small chunk of time to stay mobile on rest days, you’ll also maintain
How to Stay Mobile on Rest Days
If you can’t bear to be away from the gym, go ahead and spend some of
your rest day there. Just stay away from the weights or any heavy duty
exercises and opt for some sort of mobility or stretching routine instead.
Then again, your rest days may be the perfect time to give your body (and
your mind) a new experience and a change of scenery. You may even get
outside. The following are just a few suggestions to engage you in active
recovery while away from the gym.
1. Take a Long Walk
Looking for a way to burn calories without stressing the body too much?
Taking a long walk is the perfect low-impact activity for your rest day.
Heading to the great outdoors and taking a stroll in your neighborhood or
through the woods is not only low-impact. It can also be a deeply
meditative experience. If the outdoors isn’t an option, seek out a treadmill
at the gym or check with your local mall about walking there.
Given all of its benefits, walking is one of the best things you can do for
2. Schedule Something Fun!
Obviously, you want to enjoy your rest days. That can be more challenging
when you’re getting bogged down with trying to figure out what sort of
gentle exercise “regimen” is right for you.
So think about what you LIKE to do instead. Maybe you want to try rock
climbing. Or if you’ve always wanted to join a bowling league, look into that.
Go for a swim, dance around your living room, take a leisurely bike ride.
You might even revisit playing on the playground.
It doesn’t matter what you do. You just want to enjoy yourself while getting
your heart pumping and your body moving.
3. Get on the Foam Roller
Getting a massage to relax and release muscle tension on your rest days
would be ideal. But unless you have a live-in massage therapist, that can
get costly very quickly.
So a foam roller is the next best thing. It’s not a close second, mind you.
But it will do the job in releasing fascia – the connective tissue that covers
the muscles and joints. All you need to do place the roller under any tight
areas and then roll back and forth on it.
You’ll be getting some movement in for the day while reducing pain
perception. So this “two-fer” makes for a perfection addition to active
4. Stretch and Lengthen Muscles with Pilates
When you’re at the gym several days a week pounding out the weight
training, you’re building some hardcore strength. But strengthening
muscles also shortens them. So you want to counter this with rest day
activities that also lengthen and stretch the muscles.
This is what makes Pilates is the perfect complement to strength training.
Not only does it serve to lengthen muscles and tendons to aid in recovery,
but it also develops improved flexibility and mobility.
And the cool thing about Pilates is that is also works to strengthen while
lengthening. So it could be something you add to your regular workout days
Other Rest Day “Activities”
In terms of not losing momentum, engaging in creative ventures and
keeping your mind active on rest days is just as important as moving your
You could use your rest days to catch up on some reading you’ve been
neglecting or watch a documentary that’s been on your list for awhile. Or
maybe you learn a new skill such as woodworking or knitting. Interested in
languages? Try your hand at teaching yourself a new one.
Games are also a great way to keep the mind engaged. It could be video
games, word games, or even board games with friends and/or family.
Another activity might be to plan (and maybe even prepare) healthy meals
for the week. This is a way to ensure you challenge your brain while also
staying diligent on the nutrition side of things.
Finally, remember that fitness is just one part of life. It’s an important part,
to be sure. But you don’t want to lose yourself in it. So give yourself plenty
of time each week to let “easy does it” be your mantra.
Interested in Trying Pilates?
As mentioned above, Pilates is a great way to engage in active recovery
and stay mobile during rest days.
But if you haven’t yet tried Pilates, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting the
‘real deal.’ So contact us today.
Our highly trained Pilates instructors and physical therapists have a deep
understanding of movement and alignment that will keep you safe