How to Take an Active Rest Day

how to take an active rest day

Does this sound like you?

You work out as hard as you can five or six days a week, making sure to include all the good stuff—intervals, squats, pull ups, push ups, and other good-for-you whole body exercises.

You make sure and walk or bike when you can, and if you don’t live in a city, you make a special effort to walk your dog or go for a stroll in the outdoors at least a couple of times a week.

Basically, you’re pretty active.

But what do you do on your off days?

Why You Shouldn’t Work Out Every Day

As tempting as it may be for those of us who enjoy being active to train every day of the week, it’s extremely important that you take at least one day off of strenuous training each week.


Because when you’re training hard—making your muscles scream and sweat pour down your forehead—you’re making tiny tears in your muscles. This is a good thing, because once those tears heal, you’ll be stronger and fitter than you were before.

But that’s the key: your muscles need to rest and repair.

Without it, not only are you putting yourself at risk for injury, but you’ll also be less likely to make progress and even start going backwards with your training before too long.

Rest Vs. Active Rest

No, taking a rest day doesn’t mean you should be sitting on the couch eating potato chips all day long. This, as you might imagine, won’t do you much good.

Instead, an active rest day is meant to be a light or easy day where you’re still moving, but not at the intensity level you normally move.

According to, active rest:

“Involves performing light exercises (often swimming or cycling) that stimulate the recovery process without imposing undue stress on the injured body part.”

Taking an active rest day will quicken your recovery, making you feel stronger and faster when you’re back in workout-mode—as long as you don’t overdo it.

Plus, it’ll help you feel less sore and stiff after an extra tough workout day.

What Exactly is an Active Rest Day?

There are many ways you can spend your active rest days, but here are a few suggestions:

    • Go for an easy to moderate hike with your friends or family
    • Take an easy bike ride
    • Go for an easy swim
    • Do some light stretching and foam rolling (highly recommended on rest days)
    • Take a walk
    • Play with your dog/kids
    • Do some sort of fun sport or activity (just don’t play too hard or it won’t count)

Surf, paddleboard, boogie board, throw a frisbee — just play.

Basically, get moving—but not too much.

What do you do on your active rest days?

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17 thoughts on “How to Take an Active Rest Day”

  1. I’m starting to skateboard(longboard, actually). I’m an absolute beginner. I thought I’d play around on that today after I get off work for my active rest day. I can alternate which leg I use to pump the board in order to work both sides of my core. Does that qualify?

  2. So I’m an athlete I have practice for a couple of hours 6 days a week and I also have weights at 5:30 every morning where we either do arms, legs, plyos, and include cardio with every day. I like to run 3 miles on my rest day. It’s not a very fast pace, it’s takes me about 30 minutes and I’m not exhausted afterwards. Is this too much for my rest day? Should I cut back? Most days I’m up at 5 and between weights class and practice o don’t have much down time throughout the day.

  3. I walk my dog every day 3 times per day for 1.5 miles each walk 7 days a week. So on my test days I just do my regular walks with my dog which totals 4.5 miles on rest days and on non rest days. I have to do 3 walks a day at 1.5 miles at a time as I have a 2 year old Papillon and don’t want to make the little guy walk 4.5 miles at once so I break it up into 3 walks a day. Plus it gets his energized butt outside 3 times a day as they get bored easily 😁

  4. Tried to leave it but something happened if it didn’t go try again in future,basically becomes more important as U Age. Also get in more cross training!


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