Get Strong in 2019 Challenge Day 11: Active Recovery Is Vital to Your Fitness Goals

 by Rachel Grice

Any good fitness regimen makes room for active recovery days. And each sweat session should include a warm-up and cool-down section. Here's why and what that looks like.

You've been pushing yourself hard during your daily workouts for the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge — good for you! But you can't go hard all the time or you'll risk a lot of nasty consequences like burnout, overtraining and injury. No one wants that!

That's where active recovery comes in. And in this case, we're using the term to apply to two different parts of your fitness regimen — cooling down after every workout (which you should be doing with each of Jordan's workouts) and separate lower intensity workouts at least once a week.

Read more: Why LISS (Low Intensity Steady-State) Cardio Is the New Feel-Good Workout

Importance of Cooling Down and Active Recovery

Giving your body time to come down from the intensity of the main part of your workout is important for a variety of reasons, which include:

  • Lowers your heart rate and breathing rate gradually
  • Helps keep you from passing out or feeling sick
  • Helps bring your body temperature back to normal
  • Lengthen muscles that you put under tension
  • Prevent blood from pooling in your limbs
  • Helps prevent muscle soreness

Similarly, your body benefits from active recovery workouts in the following ways:

  • Gets blood flowing to tired (possibly sore) muscles to aid recovery
  • Allows for more workouts during the week (as opposed to taking a day off)
  • Stretches muscles without taxing them too much
  • Gives you a break mentally and physically
  • Burns more calories than a full rest day
  • Adds variety to your schedule

Examples of Post-Workout Cool-Down Sessions

Not sure what to do after you hop off the treadmill or re-rack the weights. It's important to devote at least a few minutes (ideally around five to 10 minutes, depending on how long and intense your workout was) of slowing whatever activity you're doing an incorporating some static stretching that targets the muscles you just worked during exercise.

So it may look like this:

  • Walking/pacing to help catch your breath
  • Standing quad stretch
  • Forward fold
  • Calf stretch
  • Arm across chest stretch
  • Triceps stretch
  • Butterfly stretch
  • Side bend stretch

Read more: Top 10 Moves to Help You Recover From Your Workout

Examples of Active Recovery Workouts

A good active recovery workout is something that gets your whole body moving and your heart pumping (you may even break a sweat!) but without putting you under a low of stress. In other words, you're not going to be running, lifting heavy or doing any other high-intensity work. What can you do? Try one of these options:

  • Tai chi
  • Walking
  • Swimming
  • Cycling
  • Mobility exercises
  • Hiking
  • Rollerblading
  • Playing a friendly game of soccer or basketball
  • Dancing
  • Rowing or kayaking
  • Water aerobics

And Don't Forget to Warm Up Beforehand

Just like cooling down after your workout, warming up before you get sweating has a host of benefits including:

  • Slowly bring your heart rate and breathing rate up
  • Prep your muscles for the main part of the workout
  • Reduce the risk of injury
  • Mentally prepare yourself for your workout
  • Improve your performance during your workout

What does a good warm-up look like? Well, for starters, it should be at least three minutes, perhaps even as long as five or 10 minutes, depending on your workout. And the type of warm-up should closely mimic the exercises you'll be doing in the main part of your workout.

So for example, if you're going to be doing weighted front squats in your workout, incorporate body-weight squats into your warm-up. Here are a few more ideas of what to include in your warm-up:

  • Jogging in place
  • Jump roping
  • Arm circles (or air swimming) front to back
  • Swimmer's hugs
  • Leg swings front to back and side to side
  • Body-weight squats and lunges
  • Bending side to side
  • Incline or wall push-ups

Keep Learning More About Active Recovery

If you're new to the idea of active recovery workouts and warming up/cooling down, you'll definitely want to read more about these topics below.

How to Join the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge

1. Sign Up for Daily Emails

There are two main places this challenge is taking place online — your inbox and our Facebook group (more on that in a second). So first, make sure you've entered your email to sign up for the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge. (Yep, even if you're already signed up for our regular daily newsletter.)

Every day, we'll be sending you your daily workout and a healthy recipe to try, along with fun extras like workout playlists, motivational quotes, self-care tips and other fitness and nutrition information to make 2019 your best (and healthiest) year ever!

2. Print Out Your Calendars

Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge, you're accountable for two main things: working out and eating healthy.

To help keep you on track for the entire month, we created two calendars — one with each day's workouts listed and another with each week's nutrition goal and healthy recipes. Print them out and check off each workout and day of healthy eating as you complete it.

3. Join Our Challenge Facebook Group

For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.

4. Share Your Journey on Social Media

Are you on Instagram or Twitter? So are we! And we'd love to see photos and updates of your progress. When you post to social media, be sure to use the hashtag #GetStrongChallenge. That way, you can also connect with other Get Strong challengers!



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