A body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest tends to stay at rest. You’ve heard this loose interpretation of Newton’s First Law of Motion before. You feel it describes you perfectly. When you’re going, you keep going. If you’re hitting the gym every day and packing lunch every night, you see and feel your body change.

The problem is when you stop. One late morning where you skip the gym or you forget to bring your lunch and it’s all over. The next day it’s a little easier to hit snooze or forget you brought an egg salad wrap and baby carrots when someone asks you out for lunch. For you consistency means every day, all or nothing.

Which is why the suggestion of taking a day off workouts on purpose scares you.

Your favorite fitness magazine warns you about over training and burn out. You’ve been on a great roll the last few months so the last thing you want is for your body to throw up a giant STOP sign. You have been following a more balanced plan but to stay on track you have to do something every day.

Don’t worry! You can do something to get stronger and healthier every day. It’s just about redefining “some thing”. Rest and active recovery are two different but important parts of your plan. If you’re sick, injured or simply just exhausted, you need to rest. That means stopping moving and giving your body the care it needs (a nap, ice your ankle or hot tea with lemon and honey for example). Complete rest has a time and place but it’s not may not be your optimal form of recovery. Instead you want to make sure active recovery plays an important part in your Owner’s Manual.

What is active recovery?

Active recovery requires activities. Active recovery strategies are a perfect way to stay consistent in your “I’m going to do something every day” strategy while giving your body some extra TLC. Instead of taking a day completely off, adding an active recovery activity will keep you in a daily routine of doing something healthy and having some YOU time. A couple of days a week you should do an activity that is either done at a lower intensity or supports the recovery process. That could mean going for a walk, a yin yoga class or an afternoon on the golf course. Instead of sleeping in, you could go for a sunrise walk instead.

However, it can also mean other self-care activities like getting a massage. Doing things that support stress reduction and repair the body fit the bill of active recovery too. After all, you are taking action. You can fill the time you might spend at the gym after work with a meditation class or spending 30 minutes with your foam roller, hitting every knot, while you catch up with Grace & Frankie.

Recovery strategies should also be a small part of your daily routine. After all it’s not the work that make the body stronger; it is the rebuilding after the stress of the workout that builds a strong and healthy body. In order to bring down your stress level and support your recovery efforts you need daily recovery habits. Are you:

  • Nourishing your body with lean protein to repair muscles?
  • Getting 5 a day of colorful anti-oxidant rich vegetables and fruits?
  • Drinking plenty of water each day?
  • Getting at least 7 hours of sleep?
  • Stretch and foam rolling after each workout?
  • Setting aside time to relax your body and brain?

If you’re piling workout stress on top of work stress on top of family stress without making time daily and weekly for recovery your body is eventually going to rebel. It’s no coincidence that you get sick or injured after a big deadline passes or right after the holidays. Go too fast and too hard for too long and your body will make you stop. Then it will be time for REST.

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