Differentiating Rest from Active Recovery & Why You Should Be Doing Both!

So you've made the commitment to exercise more regularly... give yourself a pat on the back. You've done some research, decided on a fitness method or two and have your schedule all planned out... including rest days. Go ahead and give yourself a few more pats, because that's huge! But what does this really mean, and is there something more you can do to recover? 

Rest: you should consider these days to have no exercise whatsoever. Enjoy family time, run some errands, and sleep in/go to bed early when possible. 


Resting is great for your body, and allows it to fully recover and reap the benefits of all your hard workouts. But, for many of us, a rest day following an intense exercise day just means full on muscle soreness and stiffness as we zombie shuffle our way to refill our glass of water (yes, hydrate)! If you know the scene I'm describing well, you may benefit from some "active recovery" days!

Active Recovery may seem counter-intuitive. We just told you to rest, but now we're saying be active... aren't those opposites? Yes, but no. Performing some zero to low-intensity activities at an easy to moderate pace gets your blood flowing and allows muscles to reduce any residual fatigue (see DOMS for more on this).

What are low-intensity activities? Think walking, yoga, cycling, swimming and hiking. Serious runners with high-volume training programs can also do some slower runs to recover. 

One of the biggest misconceptions is that resting will cause you to lose your gains and momentum. In actuality, failing to rest can cause burnout and lead to failing to meet goals that you've set for yourself. Aim to include two to three harder workouts each week with plenty of easy and moderate activity sprinkled in. Remember: recovery includes both complete rest and active recovery! This can come in many ways, but the most important thing to remember is find what works for you and stick with it!

Lisa Gennett and I recently did some active recovery hiking! We chose a sunset hike to a beautiful spot called Black Balsam Knob off the Blue Ridge Parkway... it was gorgeous and just what we needed to recover after a grueling week of CrossFit workouts! 

Join us on Instagram Stories today as we're off to hike again! We'll be posting our favorite sights, sounds and plenty of hydration breaks... so stay tuned!