For every stress you put your body through for strength or cardio training, a recovery period is equally as important. While it can be tempting to believe that all-go, no-quit workouts can accelerate results, even the world’s top athletes understand the importance of a day off. For example if you are a lifter your muscles need a break so they can repair themselves and grow larger. Usually, once a week is enough to give the body a nice rest and reset from whatever your most frequent form of exercise may be. You don’t, however, have to sit around the house on bed rest. Low-impact cross training can be equally as refreshing as a day curled up on the couch, and perhaps an even better compliment to your high-impact workout.
For instance, if you’ve been training hard for a marathon or half marathon you may really enjoy a tai chi or yoga class. The stationary poses and motion gives your knees, ankles and hips a break from the jolt of hitting the pavement or treadmill and the multi-directional stretching helps hip flexors, hamstrings and quads stay limber, even though running typically tightens muscles, ligaments and tendons in these areas. Alternatively, if you’re doing a lot of hard-core weight training, a medium-intensity cardio day gives the muscles a break while also preserving range of motion. Swimming, for example, is a great choice as it puts zero pressure on joints while also involving all muscle groups working together to propel the body through the water.
Other low-impact activities include walking, biking, surfing, paddleboarding, some martial arts, and no- or low-contact sports like tennis and volleyball. Simply choose the one that seems as opposite from your daily activities as possible and make sure it is something that you will enjoy doing. Of course, one of the most important tasks is to relax and enjoy… because your brain deserves a day off, too.