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Recovery and Rest: Understanding the Importance of Down Time in Your Fitness Routine

Apr. 22, 2024 / VASA Admin
Recovery and Rest: Understanding the Importance of Down Time in Your Fitness Routine

Recovery and rest between tough workouts are two of the most overlooked aspects of fitness routines. Your body is like a car that needs to refuel its gas tank more frequently the faster or farther you drive it. If you don’t take the time to stop at the gas station, you’ll end up breaking down on the side of the road.

Recovery allows the body to repair itself and prepare for future workouts. Your body will feel fresh, and your performance will be at its highest when you allow it to adapt to the hard work you put in. When rest and recovery are skipped, you’ll notice a decrease in motivation and performance, signaling you need to take a break. Taking a day between hard workouts allows for physical recovery and mental recovery, which in turn can keep your motivation high.

Overtraining Syndrome can occur when you exercise too much without giving your body enough time to recover over several weeks to months. Symptoms of overtraining include feeling tired all the time, depression, loss of motivation, poor sleep, mood disturbances, a weaker immune system, and decreased physical performance. It usually takes about the same amount of time to recover from overtraining as it took to get there in the first place. The best approach is to avoid overtraining by following a structured fitness program that includes strength, cardio, mobility, and recovery exercises. This balance can help you achieve long-term success, rather than just a quick fix.


Male athlete doing a barbell exercise in the performance lifting area at VASA Fitness


Sleep and nutrition are the most important factors in recovering from grueling workouts. The average American adult does not get enough quality sleep and when hard training sessions are added to the mix, results are hard to achieve because your body is over-stressed and under-recovered. Getting seven to nine hours of high-quality sleep is important for recovery since this is the biologically established amount of time the body needs to repair itself.  So, if you’re cutting your sleep short, you’re limiting your ability to recover from your workouts and your performance will diminish over time.

Eating plenty of protein also aids in recovery from tough workouts. Protein helps repair and build tissues in the body like muscles and tendons that are typically damaged in hard workouts. It also helps with other important bodily functions like metabolism, and fluid balance, and keeps the immune system in good shape. Aim for your ideal body weight in grams of protein each day so that you’re getting enough to help your body repair and grow.


Female athlete walking on a treadmill in the cardio deck on VASA Fitness


Workouts for Recovery

Workouts can be done for recovery. Blood flow is another important factor in recovery and can be achieved at low intensities.  Walking, cycling, bodyweight mobility drills, and stretching all force blood to pump around the body while keeping your heart rate low. The more nutrients the blood can deliver to the muscles, the faster they can repair and sometimes reduce feelings of soreness.

A great way to get in a recovery day workout is to go light and focus on full range of motion exercises. Here’s an example of what that looks like:

  • Warm Up: 10 minutes of treadmill walking or cycling (heart rate stays between 110-130)
  • Couch Stretch, 1 minute per side
  • Twisted Cross Stretch, 1 minute per side
  • Cat Cow, 2 minutes
  • Quadruped T-spine Rotation, 1 minute per side
  • Bird Dog Arm & Leg Extensions, 1 minute per side
  • Cool Down: 20 minutes of treadmill walking or cycling (heart rate stays between 110-130)

Taking a day or two a week to allow your body to recover, in addition to proper sleep and eating enough protein, will significantly enhance your fitness journey. If you’re not sure where to start, STUDIO FLOW infrared yoga is a great option for recovery workouts. The heat of the infrared panels will gently warm the body to promote blood flow, and Deep Stretch or Restore classes will help you take advantage of full ranges of motion positions at low intensities so you’re ready to crush your next workout.