For most of us, our fitness routine includes sweating it out in the gym, yoga studio or a pilates/boxing class. But experts are now urging us to include rest and recovery sessions too.
Sounds too good to be true, right? Wrong.
“Recovery is often overlooked by many of us as we are lead to believe if a form of exercise isn't making us sweat or leaving us breathless and fatigued at the end then there is no point in doing it,” explains Richard Kerrigan, founder of The Beach Life Fuel & Fitness 12 Week Plan.
Instead, the body needs time to repair and grow from the stress and fatigue we place on it during a workout.
“The magic happens whilst we rest and recover so avoiding these sessions or not leaving enough time in between sessions can be detrimental to the workout session,” Richard says.
In fact, if you don’t build recovery sessions into your fitness routine, you could be holding yourself back from losing weight and getting fitter.
“Building recovery sessions into your training schedule is so important and could just be the one thing that is holding you back from losing weight, increasing your strength or getting fitter.”
And if you think you should be sore after a workout session, you should think again. The fitness expert believes the best session is the one that leaves you feeling good and inspired to go back and do it again.
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“This is how healthy habits are created,” he says.
“I love to build some 'active recovery' sessions into my week which may sound strange being active when you are supposed to be resting but it's actually great for your body to move a little. These low-intensity sessions allow the blood to flow around the body more efficiently proving oxygen to the muscles aiding in a faster recovery process.”
“Some of my favourite active recovery sessions include an easy swim, a light bike ride, a moderate paced walk or a foam rolling and stretch session,” he adds.
Fueling your body with the right food is also crucial:
“Including a good balance of complex carbohydrates, good fats and lean protein will help repair your muscles and encourage them to grow,” Richard says. “My advice is to keep it simple and fill your body with lots of green leafy vegetables, colourful fruits with the skin left on where possible and consume lean protein sources. If you keep in mind 'Just Eat Real Food' you really can't go wrong.”
But perhaps the most important benefit is an improvement in your mindset.
“Your mind is responsible for all the choices that you make so taking some time out to refocus can allow you to go further in the long run. Sometimes we have to take a step backwards to move forwards,” he adds.
Richard’s top tips for great recovery:
Sleep- aim for 7-9 hours
Read- switch off the mind and get lost in a book
Active rest- easy swim, a light walk, foam rolling session
Warm bath- salts, bath oils
Hydration- aim for at least 2-2.5 litres of water each day
Nutrition- balanced diet to support your training
Talk- open up to people to clear your mind
In short: Do something for 30 minutes, pay attention to real nutritious food, keep it simple then repeat!