Should one embark on a daily exercise routine or are they better taking days off from the gym or their overall fitness regimen?
The answer, in all honesty, is yes and no.
Yes, you need to take rest days from either intense or high-volume resistance training. Yes, the same should be said for high-intensity interval cardio.
However, you should be doing at least something every day, even if that something is merely walking.
It’s akin to the 10,000 steps per day mantra, so when you’re on a rest day from more intense or higher volume training, it’s imperative you at least do some sort of physical activity.
But what should you be doing if say, just a walk around the neighborhood or even a treadmill walk at your local gym or basement won’t suffice?
Here are some of my favorites from over the years.
You can hike a park as well, as there are several that have both trails or simply the main drag. Not only are you getting an ample amount of steps in, but you’re also taking in scenery. If you’re going into the woods or a forested area, it’s best you go with someone or a group.
If you live in a rural area or outside the urban dwellings, it’s possible that you have multiple options here, meaning you’ll likely never get bored. Choose a location and go for it!
This was one of my favorite pastimes growing up and just like hiking, it can take place on trails or at parks. There’s never a shortage of scenery here and it’s a fantastic alternative to those who may not be able to walk a far distance.
Or better yet, it’s another option to insert along with hiking, especially if you’re looking for a lesser intense workout. These days, cities have bike routes all over the place, so if you want to catch some urban scenery during a relaxed period of active rest, biking is your answer.
The fantastic thing about most commercial gyms is that they have TV sets; even smaller box gyms own at least three if not more so for those of us who say, watch sports on weekends, it’s a great way to watch the game without feeling overly guilty about sitting on the couch over the course of three hours.
But notice I said cardio circuit. You can do something low-impact here with arc trainers, ellipticals, rowing machines, and stair-steppers. Just go slower than what you would normally go and/or cut the resistance if the movement calls for it.
You can go without an actual circuit here but if you’re like me and bore quickly, mixing it up for 45-60 minutes on a low-intensity scale will kill time, burn calories, and still provide for some awesome entertainment.
This one is my personal favorite but it does call on for a more advanced trainee. You can do all sorts of movements with little to no equipment but if you have access and if you’re able to do so, the pull-up and parallel bars are great for a light to moderate workout.
TRX suspension is another personal favorite plus the ab wheel. Again, this circuit calls on for someone more advanced and with a few more years’ experience. I would say to incorporate bodyweight training into your more intense, higher volume days before categorizing it as a ‘recovery’ or ‘active rest’ workout, but the day will come to where conventional bodyweight training can be done with relative ease.
So, are you going to overreach or overtrain your body with daily exercise? Not if you cycle high-intensity or high-volume days with those consisting of both moderate to low intensity and volume. The suggestions listed above can and will allow you to lessen both volume and intensity, instead giving your body the physical activity it needs for the day without going overboard.
It’s best for anyone who is a beginner or intermediate to start with just walking or cycling before advancing to more advanced varieties of active rest. Our bodies need a daily dose of activity but they can and should go without greater intensities or volumes.
When you can add in days of active rest in addition to your main workout routine, not a single day should pass where you aren’t doing something. However, it is smart to keep the intensity and volume low for at least two days a week; even more for those in the beginning and intermediate stages.