Rest and Recovery: Why It's Important and How To Do It
Rest and recovery are core to a successful fitness journey. Working out without proper rest and recovery can lead to over-training, fatigue, and decreased performance. Definitely a recipe for wipeout. In fact, ACE says training recovery could be the most important component of your exercise program.
So, what really is rest and recovery?
Think of rest as the time spent not training or sleeping. Say you spend five hours at the club training every week. That leaves you with 163 hours in the week you are not training. This is all technically time classified as rest. But proper rest? That comes from catching those zzz’s.
Sleep and rest are critical – arguably the most important piece to the puzzle. Getting enough sleep helps improve your mental and emotional state, muscles repair and hormones balance. Need more zzz’s? Read more here.
Recovery, however, is different. It’s all about helping your body recuperate from and maximize the benefits of your workouts. These things include how much water you drink, what your fuel your body with, how you cool down and stretch post-training, how you manage your stress and how you use things like heat and ice to help your muscles repair.
If proper rest comes from better sleep, what does proper recovery look like?
- Sleep – while this technically falls under rest, sleep is the most important time to recover, so make sure you’re getting at least 7-8 hours a night (more if you’re an athlete or train more than your average bear).
- Hydrate – drink enough water!
- Properly nourish with healthy foods – stick to whole, unprocessed foods that will support your body and its ability to help heal after a big training session.
- Get a massage – treat yourself for reaching a milestone or a short-term goal with a massage that will help release tight muscles and restore normal tissue. You can also try foam rolling for tension relief.
- Remember to stretch – try a restorative yoga class, incorporate dynamic stretching into your warm up and static stretching into your cool down.
- Use heat – do some light stretching and spend some time in an epsom salt bath on a day off of training. Your body (and mind) will thank you!
- Give yourself permission – finally, give yourself the permission to rest and recover. Not only will it make your healthy habits stick around much longer, but it’ll make the whole journey more enjoyable. Find the balance that works best for your body – maybe that’s four days of work and three days of recovery. Lace up your tennis shoes, go for a light walk on the treadmill and do some stretching for an active recovery day.