No matter how athletic and in-shape you are— and no matter how many times you work out in a week— a recovery day is necessary. Sure, it’d be ideal to work out every single day to better yourself however you wish. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to lose weight, gain muscle, or just improving your overall health. Everyone needs to take a recovery day and not work out every day of every week.
If you think that you don’t actually need to take a recovery day, you’d be wrong to think that. Health-wise, it’s the smartest thing you can do. A recovery day allows your sore muscles and ripped muscle tissue to repair properly. If you push it too much, you could end up hurting yourself in an embarrassing and preventable manner. Plus, it allows you to store up your lost energy, which can then go towards your next workout. A recovery day allows your entire body to relax and take a break from the intense workouts you’ve been putting yourself through.
But there’s more to it than just recovering from working out. Working out takes up a lot of time in your day. It doesn’t matter if you work out first thing in the morning or in the late evening— a work out is something that takes up time. So by taking a recovery, you can use that same amount of time to do something else. You can devote that time to binging a new TV show, focusing on work, reading, sleeping in (if possible), spending time with your loved ones, and/or taking up a hobby. Working out is important— but it shouldn’t be your entire life. There’s so much more to life than going to the gym and getting your sweat on.
Having said all that, taking a recovery day doesn’t mean to fall completely off the healthy lifestyle wagon. Yes, a cheat meal or cheat day (depending on what you prefer) is okay to take every once in a while. But doing that every time you take a recovery day does more harm than good. You need to be smart on a recovery day. The biggest thing is to listen to your body in order to determine how you’re truly feeling. Other things to do include eating healthy, getting enough sleep, and staying hydrated.
Even on a recovery, it’s still important to stay somewhat active. The key here is to do things that are low-impact for 30 to 45 minutes per day. Pilates and yoga classes are a great idea. But even walking— whether that entails going on a hike to window shopping— is a good way to spend your recovery day. Finally, stretching is necessary to help improve your flexibility and loosen your muscles. A foam roller can help with this, but it isn’t necessary in order to get a good stretch on.
A recovery day is critical in order to— well, recover from your gruelling workouts. It’s important to take them on a regular basis in order to give your body a much-need break. One could argue that it gives you time to perform some much-needed self-care. So don’t ever hesitate to take those recovery days because you’ve more than likely earned it!