Physical activity is important for longevity, increasing energy levels, reducing stress, weight management and much more. While people are aware of the benefits of physical activity, not everyone thinks about recovery.
Once starting a fitness regimen, it is common for someone to fear taking a day off because they feel they may lose their momentum, progress they’ve made or even back slide. However, recovery is just as important as working out.
Even though the fitness world is inundated with sayings like “go hard or go home,” recovery is necessary and sayings are often cliché and inaccurate.
The point of working out is so that the body adapts and changes. This is a process that happens over and over again with a progressive program. Changes and adaptations are the product of stress and strain being applied to the body. When someone lifts weights for example, muscle fibers are being torn, fluids are being lost and muscle glycogen is being depleted. It is not until we refuel and rest that these fibers begin to repair, grow, and increase in strength. Recovery allows the body to heal and helps improve performance.
According the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), adults should get around 150 minutes of moderate to intense cardiovascular exercise a week and should weight train each major muscle group 2-3 times per week. While this is the general standard, it is OK to train 3-7 days a week with proper programming.
A good program may include cardiovascular training 2-3 days a week, 2-5 days of specific weight training, and maybe one or two days of high-intensity workouts. A workout regimen is like a balanced diet. Every person is physiologically different and has different goals; this requires very specific workout routines.
The same concept applies to recovery. Some people may take one or two days off of exercise, others a week every couple of months, and still some may structure their workouts so that they have a light recovery day, also known as an active recovery day. The more active or athletic someone is, the more likely they may have an active recovery day, which could include a brisk walk, light jog, recreational swim or pick-up game. Inevitably, an active recovery day means someone participates in activity that differs from their regular routine. Proper recovery will prevent overtraining. Overtraining can lead to injury, muscle damage, a plateau in performance or results and exhaustion, despite having good sleep. Someone may also become sick more often and feel a general achiness. Here are some ways to prevent overtraining:
1. Plan your week with a balanced
exercise and recovery program
2. Nourish your body
3. Prioritize your sleep
4. Maintain your range of motion and include myofascial release
5. Reduce daily stress
Exercising and proper recovery are important factors to gaining optimal results. Recovery will help you feel stronger, more mobile and less tired.