What Is Active Recovery?
In simple terms, active recovery is an easier workout than your normal exercise routine. An active recovery workout is usually performed during one of your off days from training. Generally speaking, these easier workout sessions will be less intense and contain less volume. Context plays a huge role when defining active recovery. For example, for a marathon runner jogging at a slow pace would count as active recovery and is very unlikely to have an impact on their ability to train a lot harder on their scheduled workout days. It may also help them achieve their fitness goals.
If we compare this to an unfit, unhealthy person just starting on their weight loss journey, they may consider anything beyond 10 minutes of walking as a hard workout. Therefore, one must always take into consideration the overall fitness of an individual before designing an active recovery workout.
Exercise should only be classified as active recovery, if you feel better after your session in comparison to before it.
Is Active Recovery Beneficial?
Many think that active recovery has several distinct advantages over passive recovery (total rest days) in that it helps to prime the body’s metabolic pathways of recovery.
Others argue that active recovery workouts are of no benefit at all, they simply are far less intense than standard workouts and don’t add to the overall stress of training.
Regardless of the general consensus, many people see benefits in including some active recovery sessions in their training routines. These can include psychological benefits such as elevated mood and a lot of people feel better when exercising on a daily basis.
Another point worth mentioning is that people tend to find it easier to stick to their diets when working out daily. Also of note is active recovery gives people the chance to burn off more calories and thus increase their fat loss potential.
5 Active Recovery Workout Ideas
Here are five forms of active recovery that will easy fit into your pre-existing workout program:
- Lighter weight lifting sessions: Hopefully your training routine incorporates some form of strength training. First select a weight 30% or less of what you usually lift and perform a couple of sets aiming between 15 – 30 reps. This will help with the blood flow to your muscles.
- Walking: This is unquestionably one of the best forms of active recovery. It helps to burn calories but perhaps more importantly will boost your feelings of well-being. The amount of walking that you do should be based on your current fitness level and your workout schedule.
- Swimming: Again, this is a great form of active recovery as it is very low impact. Swimming provides you with the perfect cardiovascular workout for your muscles without putting pressure on your joints.
- Yoga: Yoga is perfect to aid with mobility recovery, helping you to stretch out any tense areas of your body. Make sure that you learn from a qualified instructor!
- Cycling: Similar to the other forms of aerobic exercise listed here, if performed at a low intensity, cycling can provide a great active recovery workout.