6 Things To Do On (GASP) ... A DAY OFF FROM THE GYM

As coaches we often talk about the importance of hitting the gym consistently.  The reasons for this are endless - - a healthier body, a happier mind, a sense of community, and an improved lifestyle.

We know that to reach your goals in life you need to get comfortable being a little uncomfortable, as well as having a rock solid support system behind you to cheer you on.  Over time, your chosen place of fitness training becomes almost an oasis from the hectic life you lead, giving you that time you need to reflect and grow physically and mentally.

Yet there are times when a day off from the gym isn't just something you should do, it's something you must do.

Recovery time is crucial to any training program (in fact, it's even built into the Training For Warriors System).  According to About.com/health, "Building recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place.  Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues."

So whether it's one day or more, athletes of all levels will benefit from a day off.  But that doesn't necessarily mean sitting on the couch all day.  Your day off can be helpful and fun if you put a little creativity into it.

Try these 6 things to do on your day off and build your list from there!


1. Take a Nap - Okay, okay, we know we just said to avoid sitting on the couch all day but periods of rest are wonderful refreshers for the mind and body.  It really doesn't take much to enjoy the perks of a solid nap.

A study reported in Forbes analyzed the effects of napping. Varying lengths of naps produced different results:

  • A 10 minute nap provided immediate improvements in sleep latency (how quickly you fall asleep), sleepiness, fatigue, vigor and cognitive performance.
  • A 20 minute nap offered improvements that appeared 25 minutes after napping and lasting up to 125 minutes
  • A 30 minute nap also offered improvements up to 155 minutes after the nap but also produced a period of impaired alertness and performance immediately after.


2. Make your brain sweat - A strong healthy body is essential for good health but so is a strong healthy brain.  Research shows that individuals who pursue brain building activities enjoy the most benefits.  Try undertakings that challenge you, teach you something new, incorporate skills on which you can build and provide rewards.

When in doubt, take the obvious route like picking up a book or writing something down in a journal.  These things help keep your brain sharp and do a great job at calming your emotions.


3. Hit the hiking trail - Hiking is a wonderful way of getting cardiovascular exercise in a different way than spending hour after hour slogging on the hamster wheel at the big box gym.  Switching up your time to explore the outdoors can engage your core more effectively, improve you sense of balance, naturally strengthen the glutes and hamstrings -- while giving your body a break from the repetitive stress of strength training with the same movements.

Another benefit -- "Research shows that hiking has a positive impact on combating the symptoms of stress and anxiety," says Gregory A. Miller, PhD, president of the American Hiking Society.


4. Hit the water - Even if you are a triathlete who spends hours training in the water, finding new ways to play can give your body a break and your mind a boost.

Try these activities for switching up your exercise routine and providing your body active recovery:

  • Paddle Boarding - check out the latest trend, Yoga Paddle Boarding
  • Canoeing - you can find dozens of places to canoe within 2 hours of the Twin Cities. Check out these favorites
  • Kayaking - besides challenging your body in a different way, kayaking is great for building strength and reducing stress
  • Skating/Ice Hockey - this is Minnesota, and yes ICE is water!  Playing an intense game of ice hockey or learning how to skate will give your body a completely different feel than your normal gym training routine


5. Freeze your ass off - Cryotherapy has become the latest rage these days.  People have forked over thousands of dollars for the opportunity of "standing nearly naked in a chamber filled will super-cold air - anywhere from minus 150 to minus 290 degrees Fahrenheit - for 3 minutes."

The benefits are said to include relief from pain and depression, and improvement in athletic performance and sleep.

The jury is still out however on if this recovery tactic is really all it's cracked up to be, but athletes have sworn by a similar method - ice baths - for a very long time to help reduce inflammation and muscles soreness.

Not quite ready to burn out the motor on your refrigerator's ice maker? Check out The Locker located in Minneapolis


6. Scare yourself silly - Doing things that make you uncomfortable is a theme around these parts at Training For Warriors.  Time and time again we've seen the positive results of going a little outside of your comfort zone.  The same can be said when you take a recovery day.

When you experience a rush of adrenaline as you confront your fears (i.e. skydiving, bungee jumping, rock climbing, Halloween maze) you're also releasing powerful endorphins that can reduce pain and trigger a positive feeling of well-being.


If you've found yourself hitting a wall and you've been putting in your hours at the gym, then it may be time to close your eyes and pick one of the above and take a recovery day.  You'll come back stronger, healthier and happier than before - the perfect scenario to continue "Bringing Out The Warrior Within" at Training For Warriors-South Metro.

To learn more about our multi-pronged training approach (which includes recovery days) that can produce lost term results, click the link HERE to learn more about Training For Warriors and the people that call it home!








Eric ParentComment