Oct194 Ways To Recover Better on Your Days Off From Exercise

When most people think of improving their fitness, they usually think of hard workouts that drain them dry of sweat, and leave them gasping for air at the end of the session.

First off, if that’s you at the end of your workout, ease up a bit. Second, recovery is probably one of the most overlooked things in fitness. Exercisers and fitness enthusiasts are always looking to push the needle a little more, always going that extra mile; but what do they do for recovery? It might normally look like sitting on the couch, not moving and “resting” your sore muscles while binging Netflix.

While that does sound like a grand ol’ time, there are better ways to improve your recovery – and make no mistake, good recovery IS important: if you want long-term results, you can’t just workout like a maniac with poor recovery and expect it to last forever. Injuries will happen, and results will come slower (or halt altogether).

So what are some good ways to optimize recovery? Check out these options below.

Perform Light Movement on Your Days Off

Gone are the days of sitting on the sofa, allowing your body to sink into the cushions, resting the sore muscles from yesterday’s workout. Actually, doing nothing is going to make you even more sore.

What you should do is some light active recovery on the days you aren’t working out, especially the day after a workout. When you move, you’re getting blood flow throughout the body. Blood carries nutrients, and those nutrients are going to go to the damaged – aka sore – areas and help repair them. If you’re stationary and doing nothing, the recovery process is going to be sub-optimal.

Different ways to get light activity is endless: you could go for a light jog or walk, play a pick-up game of a favorite sport, go for an easy hike, ride your bike, foam rolling, yoga, etc. Even stretching for 5 minutes or doing small bouts of light stretching throughout the day will help. Do what works best for you, and get moving!

Take a Cold Shower or Bath

You may have heard of cold therapy or immersion in certain circles, and its gained a lot of popularity lately. Research has suggested that cold exposure can decrease inflammation and improve immunity, which does a body good. Taking a cold shower or bath can help sore muscles recover faster by decreasing the inflammation and improving blood flow (as your body has to increase its internal heat).

Realize though that this is just an option, not a magic pill. Studies have also shown that while cold exposure is beneficial when it comes to recovery, its pretty similar to getting some light movement in, like cycling.

Also, one extra benefit: if you can force yourself to withstand a cold shower in a calm manner, it might help improve your “mental toughness”, as not everyone can take that kind of treatment.

Eat Foods That Aid Muscle Recovery

Speaking of inflammation, eating the right foods can increase your recovery. We all know that a well balanced diet can have numerous health benefits, one of them being improving recovery from tough workouts.

Eating enough protein (especially the days that you have a grueling training session) will allow your body to recover properly, and eating plenty of veggies and fruits will provide you with plenty of important micronutrients.

Some foods are especially good when it comes to decreasing inflammation. Some options are:

  • Fish. Things like salmon, tuna, sardines, anchovies, and other cold water fish have omega 3 fatty acids, which help with inflammation and has brain benefits.
  • Nuts and seeds. Flaxseed, walnuts, and other nuts and seeds are a great alternative to animal sourced omega 3s.
  • Berries. Berry-type foods are great anti-inflammatory foods, and are packed full of antioxidants.

Improve Your Sleep Quality

You’ve probably heard this one before, but it’s worth repeating: Sleeping does a body good. Sleep is the body’s natural recovery method, and getting 7-8 hours a night is crucial.

Now, we know most people don’t get the optimal amount of rest per night, so what’s the next best option? Napping. Getting in small micro-naps – while not as optimal as getting a goodnights rest- can be beneficial, especially on those days you don’t get enough hours at night.

The hard part is actually finding the time to take a nap; good thing is even taking 10-20 minutes can give you a little boost to keep you going.

While napping can help, nothing can replace an undisturbed sleep. Try to enhance your sleep cycle for improved recovery (if you need help on developing better sleeping habits, check out our blog post here).


Hopefully these tips can help you recover better, and come back stronger!