Misinformation in the fitness industry has promoted the myth that we all need one or two days’ break (passive recovery) from exercise every week. Under normal circumstances, this simply isn’t true.

Part of my 28 program philosophy is to do some form of physical activity every day. There are good reasons for this: Our bodies are designed to move every day, and our health suffers if we don’t.

Think about how you feel after sitting on the couch or behind a desk all day how it affects your mood, your digestion and your sleep.

I advocate ‘active recovery’ over ‘passive recovery’.

I know “active recovery”‘ almost sounds like a contradiction in terms. Recovery implies taking a rest from exercise, while activity is the complete opposite.

However, we are designed to move. Every day. And it’s good for us.

What is Active Recovery?

Active recovery is a workout that is performed at a lower intensity, reduced power or lesser resistance than your regular workout.

Why is Active Recovery Important?

Active recovery can reduce soreness and speed up the muscle-rebuilding process. For example, after five days of solid training, an active recovery session helps your muscle recovery by increasing blood flow without putting a heavy strain on your muscles and joints.

Active recovery also plays an important role in our overall fitness program by balancing out our high-intensity interval sessions, promoting muscle recovery and maintaining the habit of working out.

Active recovery helps keep the momentum going. If you’ve ever had a lazy weekend and struggled to get back into that first workout on Monday, you’ll know what I’m talking about. And, as we all know, one missed workout can easily slip into two, and from there it can be a slippery slope. Momentum works both ways, so keeping up the habit of exercising on weekends means you’re more likely to stick to it.

What does Active Recovery look like?

One of the best things about active recovery is that the options are almost limitless. You can change it up as often as you like, and pick activities that suit the weather and your environment. That means you’re not locked into a weekend activity you don’t enjoy and won’t commit to.

Making a commitment to active recovery on the weekends can encourage you to try activities you might never have considered before. You can choose something that involves the kids or something to enjoy with a partner, a friend, or alone.

This weekend, head out and try one of the following active recovery options:

  • Take a walk in some soft sand
  • Light interval session around the local oval (jog half then walk half for 28 minutes)
  • Spin class
  • Bike ride
  • Hill running. Find a hill or incline to run up, and then recover by walking down (repeat for 28 minutes)
  • Swimming intervals for 28 minutes (do one lap swimming freestyle flat out followed by two recovery laps of breaststroke)
  • Yoga

Keep it short, keep it simple, and have plenty of variety. But don’t forget, the word here is active!

The important thing is to add some Yin to our Yang to balance our body and mind for the physical and mental stresses that higher intensity training and life throws our way between Monday to Friday.

Posted by Sam Wood

Father and husband, on a mission to help people move more, eat better and make a positive change to their lives. Sam Wood has over 20 years experience as a personal trainer and is recognised as one of Australia’s leading experts and media commentators in the health & fitness industry. Sam is the founder and personal trainer of 28, Australia’s #1 home fitness and nutrition program, and he's also the proud owner of Australia’s largest personal training studio, The Woodshed, based in Brighton, Melbourne.