Why Active Recovery is a Self-Care Essential

Exercise and sharing its benefits with all of you is my passion. A really challenging workout has the ability to be meditative, empowering, and transformative. But as much as I love those feelings, I can also tell when my body needs a break. It’s important that you listen to your body, too.

Our bodies are under a lot of physical stress when we regularly exercise—especially if you’re working out a lot and at high intensities. That’s where active rest days come in. It’s possible to keep your workout commitments, while still letting your body recover. You’ll notice in the 28-day Quaran-TONE Challenge or in the Weekly Workout Schedules we give you days to just flow and stretch. Here are a few good reasons why you should incorporate active rest days into your fitness routine:

Reduce your risk for injury: When you keep doing the same movements over and over again, at some point your joints and muscles are going to accumulate a lot of wear and tear that can lead to an injury. For example, if you are squatting and jumping day in and day out, those knees are taking quite a beating leaving you at risk for a repetitive stress injury. A day (or two) of rest from those exercises gives those body parts a much-needed break and recovery time.

Increase your muscle growth: You may not believe this, but your muscles actually grow while you are resting, not working, them. Without getting too detailed, when you lift weights tiny tears are created in your muscles. Your muscles grow and your strength increases when your muscles are resting as those tears go through the healing process. In taking a day for lower intensity exercise, over doing nothing, you’ll increase blood flow, give circulation to help boost nutrients that let your muscles repair, and flush out toxins that build up during exercise (like when you get a massage).

Improve your performance: If you are not giving yourself a break, your workouts will suffer and so will reaching some of your fitness goals. Give your body a chance to rest so you can totally crush your next workout. The last thing you want to do is diminish all your hard work and gains.

Give you more energy: All work and no rest will make you a very tired lady. Sure, exercise is energizing, but too much exercise is exhausting. Nobody can keep and going. At some point, fatigue and lethargy will kick in if you don’t take a break. So do yourself a favor and take the battery out every now and again. Think of it as recharging your body so you can be at 100% when you are ready to go.

Increase your motivation: But you’re already motivated to work out so why stop? In truth, most people will eventually hit that mental (and physical) brick wall where exercise can feel more like a chore like doing the laundry or cleaning the house. Give yourself a chance to miss it a little bit so you’re more eager and motivated to get back to it.

I realize slowing things down can be difficult for those of us who love to stay active. The good news is that a rest day doesn’t have to mean being passive and sitting on the couch binge-watching your fave television show (though we all need that some days, too). Do something low impact that uses 60-70% of your energy instead of a usual 110%. Enjoy a flowy yoga class at BrookeBurkeBody.com, take a walk with the family, go for an easy bike ride, or just stretch. All of these are easy on the body, but still beneficial for your health and well-being. So, take a moment, breathe, and listen to what your body needs now.