In many ways recovery is the most important phase of the process of becoming fit. It’s when your body is recovering from the beating it took during a workout that the actual benefits kick in; rebuilt muscles and bones, healthier hearts, burned fat, etc.
Not resting can inhibit this process and lead to overtraining and injuries.
Exactly how much recovery time you need depends on many factors, but in most cases doing light exercise on your “off” days is better for you than not doing any. Choose lower-intensity and lower-impact activity that reduces soreness and boosts recovery by increasing blood flow throughout your body without excessively taxing it.
It keeps your body in constant motion with slow, flowing movements to build your balance as well as agility and flexibility. Combine it with deep breathing to encourage relaxation from any physical and emotional stress you’re dealing with.
The rest day go-to for many an athlete, yoga has the same meditative nature as tai chi but is built out of static poses and all of that stretching that feels so amazing after a workout. It also juices up your circulation, which is so important for muscle repair as well as eliminating lactic acid and other waste products expelled by your muscles.
The ultimate low-impact activity completely spares your joints after a long run, HIIT session or other high-impact burst. You still get to build your cardio-pulmonary capacity at a reduced pace, with the added benefit of water pressure to further improve your circulation.
Walking & hiking
Maintaining your stride at a moderate but constant rate as you walk or run for a half hour or so does get your heart rate up and builds back your cardio-muscular endurance. If you prefer hiking, find an easy-to-moderate trail and enjoy the added challenge to your glutes and core muscles from uneven surfaces.
If you’re not too worn out, try doing some circuit training with resistance at about one-third of the heaviest weights you can handle to ramp up your blood flow without stressing or tearing your muscles.