Your body is craving rest.
Some people believe that taking a day off from exercise is “lazy”. That simply isn’t true. While it’s crucial to be physically active, it’s equally important to give your body ample time to recover.
The American Council on Exercise recommends resting at least one complete day every 7–10 days. This means that your rest days are just as important as the days you’re working out. That said, it can sometimes be boring on days you should be resting.
These eight activities will help your body recover and keep things from feeling stale.
1. Stretch or do yoga
Sore muscles are usually a sign that you need some rest.
Sometimes all you need is a light stretching session to help reduce any lingering muscle soreness and help repair damaged tissues. YouTube has thousands of free, 10–20 minute stretching sessions that will lead you through various helpful exercises.
This small investment will leave you feeling much more limber.
2. Prep your meals
You can’t out-train a bad diet.
Getting in shape requires effective training and a great diet. Eventually, a poor diet will catch up to you. Take some time to plan ahead and prepare healthy, nutritious meals for the week. Or, if you prefer to cook the day of, plan meal ideas for each day, so you’re ready to go when the time comes.
The more prepared you are, the better your nutrition will be.
3. Expand your brain
Knowledge is power, and it pays huge returns to your health.
The better you understand your preferred method of exercise, the more likely you are to succeed. Spend some time reading a book, article, or even watching some YouTube videos. Any time invested into learning about exercise will pay you back in dividends for years to come.
The more you learn, the healthier you’ll become.
4. Track your progress
Progress is addicting.
Take some time to review where you were compared to where you are today. Progress isn’t made overnight but rather through consistent daily action. Recognizing the results of your hard work will inspire you to keep going.
“What gets measured, gets managed.” — Peter Drucker
5. Go for a walk
If you don’t want to work out, a walk may ease your sore muscles.
Walking is a form of active recovery — which involves a low-intensity exercise in the days following a strenuous workout. If you hit things pretty hard and you’re still feeling sore, a light walk around the neighborhood may be exactly what you need.
Take a walk, but keep it brief and light.
To get in better shape, you have to push your body.
But you also have to let it rest, too. Exercise puts stress on the body, which is necessary for muscle growth, but only if given enough time to recover from it. If you don’t want to work out, your body may be screaming for some time to rest.
Take a day to fully relax — maybe even curl up on the couch and watch a movie.
7. Review your goals
Motivation will come and go.
Sometimes all it takes is reminding yourself why you started in the first place. Think back to when you started your fitness journey. Write down why you started in the first place and then come back to review it often.
Remembering your why will reignite your motivation.
8. Gameplan for the week
What doesn’t get scheduled, doesn't get done.
Life is hectic, and at any moment, a wrench could be thrown into your plans and completely transform your schedules. Take some time to review the upcoming week and map out your workouts.
If your workouts are on the calendar, you’ll more than likely stick to it.
Exercise breaks down your muscles.
Sleep repairs them. Without adequate sleep, you will never properly recover from your workouts. Take some time to go to sleep a little bit earlier to catch up on some missed shut-eye.
Your body will thank you.
Exercise is vital to staying in shape. Recovery is equally important but often overlooked. Don’t be the guy who can’t take a day off and ends up injuring himself (take it from me). Take your rest days, let your body recuperate, then get right back to it and attack your goals.
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