22 Jan Get Your Rest! – Why Recovery is Important
Get Your Rest! – Why Recovery is Important
It’s the beginning of a new year. Your goals are fresh in your mind, and if you’re like most, you’ve hit the ground running (maybe even literally 🙂 and are well on your way to achieving those goals. However, even though you’re going hard at your workouts and following your eating plan, unless you’re giving your body (and mind) sufficient time to rest and recover, you might be missing out on some of the benefits of your hard work.
The combination of sleep and time spent not training, is how we’ll define “rest”, and the way this is implemented in your life is critical.
Recovery, on the other hand, refers to techniques and actions taken to maximize repair of your body. Examples of “recovery” techniques include hydration, nutrition, stretching, massage, stress management, compression, temperature therapy (ice/heat). Because our body has different systems to repair (ie. hormonal, neurological, and structural), recovery involves everything from muscle repair to internal chemical and hormonal balance, nervous system repair, and your mental/emotional state.
While professional athletes often strive for optimal recovery to maximize performance all the time, our goal is more to prioritize living out our lives in a state of balance. A combination of rest and recovery (which includes a proper diet) in addition to an exercise routine creates a well-rounded fitness regimen. Relaxing and enjoying nights out with friends, eating our favorite restaurant meal can benefit us mentally and physically more than we realize. When we recognize the importance of rest and recovery habits, and actively make time for them, we’ll be in a better place to perform at elevated levels in the long run.
Have you ever heard of the 80/20 rule? It’s a general guidelines for health and well-being when it comes to diet, exercise, and rest. Eighty percent of your time can be spent focusing on a regimented diet and exercise routine, while twenty percent is meant for enjoying life without any sense of rules or restrictions. In other words, getting too consumed with perfection and following your diet and exercise program 100% of the time is often unrealistic and can actually be counterproductive.
Here are some of the subcomponents of rest and recovery the will provide you with better insight on how to improve not only your athletic performance, but your quality of life, too.
Sleep is when your body recovers the most, and thus, is most important. Sleep is the means that helps to provide the body time to do what it needs in terms of recovery for mental health, hormonal balance, and the muscular system. Everyone has individual needs based on their lifestyle, workouts, and genetic makeup, but the general rule for physically active adults is between 7 and 9 hours of sleep per night. To enhance the quality of your sleep, minimize lights and sounds, sleep in cooler temperatures, and wake up naturally with the sun (when possible).
As discussed in our previous article about water (here), drinking adequate amounts is critical to all functions related to health.
Not sure whether you’re hydrated or not? The easiest way to check is the coloration of your pee. The more clear, the more hydrated you are; if your pee is a dark yellow, you need to drink up!
Every choice you make around eating is an opportunity to either help heal or poison your body. Blunt, I know, but it’s true. Alcohol and processed foods contain chemicals that are toxic to the body and create an environment that breeds disease and illness. Be sure to listen to your body and educate yourself on these topics that might affect you (ex. Food intolerances, autoimmune responses to certain foods, allergies, etc.). Start with an eating plan based on whole foods from the earth and add to it as you explore how your body responds.
Beyond fueling the body for exercise and day-to-day activity, our society also puts a large focus on food as “entertainment”. This can make your decisions more difficult, but like mentioned earlier, the key to achieving balance is to aim for 80/20 and enjoy your life. A good way to help stay on track is by prepping your meals ahead of time (Take a look at our Meal Prep Guide).
Stretching increases flexibility and mobility, allowing you to move well and and reduce chances of injury and/or pain while exercising. Dynamic stretch are best during a warm-up, and static stretching helps the body cool down post-workout. Yoga can be considered a form of “active recovery” and is a great way to stretch in ways outside your normal end-of-workout routine.
Rest and recovery can help prevent injury and burnout in the long run. Don’t ignore signs from your body until it’s too late. A healthy and happy person performs better, has the energy to stick to a plan when things get tough, and also has the ability to give time and positive energy to others.
What’s your favorite way to recover from a hard workout?
-Health & Wellness Coach