If you are training hard, for a race or bikini season, you need to take rest days – at least one and up to three a week. Adequate rest can help prevent repetitive stress injuries, a common side effect of over training. But a day off shouldn't necessarily be about strengthening your relationship with your couch. Being moderately active can actually help your body recover, hence the term "active rest." Getting your heart rate up helps to get your blood flowing, bringing oxygen and nutrients to muscles damaged by working out. Getting your blood pumping will also help flush away waste products like lactic acid that can build up in muscles post exercise.
For details on how to make your rest days work for you, read more.
Here are the guidelines to follow when adding active rest to your workout schedule:
- Work out at a moderate rate – you should be able to carry on a conversation easily. If you have no one to talk to, you should be able to recite the "Pledge of Allegiance" without pausing to catch your breath. You might have trouble remembering the words. Here's a refresher course on the pledge if you haven't recited it in years.
- You should not work above 65 percent of your maximum heart rate. To do so can bring on the production of lactic acid and that is a substance you are trying to flush from your muscles. Your max heart rate is 220 minus your age. Check out the Fit Calculator to learn more about your target heart rate. Sixty-five percent is generally in the "fat burning zone" on most cardio machines.
- You should work out for at least 20 minutes, but remember not to over do it.
- You should take active rest days one to three days a week.
- Some ideas for active rest exercise: a power walk, a bike ride about town (avoiding serious climbs, of course), or a leisurely paced swim.
What are you waiting for? Get busy and rest!