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Five Active Recovery Workout Ideas

active recovery workout

What To Do on Your Rest Day? 5 Active Recovery Workout Ideas

Everyone knows that exercise is an important cornerstone for living a healthy, balanced life. What many people don’t realize is that rest days are just as critical. They nurture our mental, physical and spiritual health all at once. In fact, skipping these essential rest days can actually hinder your gains. That’s where an active recovery workout comes into play.

Active recovery is a great way to stay active while allowing your muscles to recover and come back stronger. For people trying to offset their sedentary job environment — or for those blessed with high energy levels — this recovery method is ideal.

What Is Active Recovery?

What does “active recovery” mean, anyway? It’s one of two types of recovery days you should include within your intensive workout regimen: active and passive. According to Medical News Today, active recovery is “low-intensity exercise that a person performs after higher intensity exercise to improve their recovery and performance.”

Combating Muscle Fatigue

So why is active recovery so important for your routine? Well, it helps to combat exercise-induced muscle fatigue. Muscle fatigue is exactly what it sounds like — they get tired! It happens when your muscles struggle to perform the same exercises you may have been performing yesterday…simply because they need a break.

Active recovery helps to ease those discomforts. It does so by “facilitating the removal of metabolic waste, such as lactate (or lactic acid) built up during exercise,” according to Sweat. There are other natural ways you can help soothe your muscle aches and soreness, of course – including using a plant-powered cannabinoid relief product.

Active Recovery Workout Ideas

If you notice a lot of muscle soreness after your workouts, it’s time…time to pepper your weekly routine with a few recovery days throughout. Not sure where to start? We’ve chosen five active recovery workouts that can bring refreshing variety to your life.


Arguably the most mainstream of active recovery practices is yoga. An article in Self says that yoga “increases flexibility, but it also teaches proper breathing techniques and body control. In addition, an easy yoga flow also promotes blood flow to help repair your broken-down muscle tissues.”

Yoga branches off into lots of different styles and practices. That means you can take your pick with whatever you feel will benefit your mind, body and spirit the most. For example, Yin yoga is a restorative practice. This is great for active recovery because it allows your muscles to rest without foregoing use completely. You get lots of stretching and flexibility work. On the other hand, Ashtanga is much more intense and rigid than a typical Vinyasa flow, so it may not be the best option for your recovery days. Make sure you choose a more subdued yoga session for your body to get the most out of it.

Tai Chi

Despite how great it is for building strength and body awareness, tai chi is quite a low-impact activity. According to Self, tai chi is “characterized by slow, flowing movements, making it ideal for activating the parasympathetic nervous system.” That system helps our bodies relax and recover from stress, whether from our intense workouts or just our daily lives. The parasympathetic system is key for recovery. After all, we don’t want to be in “fight or flight” mode all the time! It’s ideal for resting both mind and body, so it’d be the perfect one to incorporate into your weekly routine.


This exercise yields “best of both worlds” kinds of perks. Swimming is very low impact, giving your muscles and joints a nice little vacation from gravity. It’s a paid vacation too — your body still gets the rewards of moving around in the water. Clearly, it’s the ultimate active recovery exercise.

After your swim, treat yourself a little more by further promoting muscle and bone relief via cannabinoid products.

Walking or Jogging

Another great way to stay active while letting your muscles recover is by walking or gentle jogging. Firstly, it gets you out of the house or office, which allows you to breathe in a little fresh air. Walking also helps to keep your muscles active while promoting blood flow to those areas. For that reason, workouts like these are the most beneficial for managing your fitness, as mentioned in Sweat. Walking or jogging can certainly help you maintain the blood flow to those muscles you worked so hard the previous day.


This adventurous item fits right into our list of active recovery exercises because it’s good for the mind and soul. Plus, your muscles still get the green light. Surrounding oneself with nature has been proven to benefit the mind. In fact, Self mentions a study showing that “spending time in the great outdoors…may reduce rumination (having repetitive negative thoughts about oneself).” Additionally, it’s a good opportunity to change up the terrain you’re used to, letting you work with different muscles than usual.

Recovery Days Are Critical

Your exercise routine likely gives you a serotonin boost already. However, introducing active recovery spruces up your whole being. A change of scenery is great for the mind, so switching up your normal place to work out will keep things fresh for you. Similarly, a change in movement and intensity can be therapeutic for your muscles. Be kind to your body. Give yourself the gift of rejuvenation by getting those recovery days set in your calendar!

Kimberly Game is a freelance writer from Atlanta, GA. She has always had a love for writing, and started a freelance writing company in 2016 after graduating with a B.B.A. from Kennesaw State University. Having focused her studies in marketing, she enjoys using wordly art to help businesses attract leads and ultimately influence those leads to take action. She is also an internationally certified yoga instructor, and teaches in her spare time.


Medical News Today — What To Know About Active Recovery

Self — What Is Active Recovery? 11 of the Best Activities To Do on Your Rest Days

Sweat — 6 Active Recovery Workout Ideas