If you’ve been faithful to your gym routine for any length of time, you know the importance of scheduling rest days into your training week. But just because you’re taking a day off doesn’t grant you a license to become a Barcalounger blob. Sure, it’s important to have at least one full day off from all sorts of activity every week, but on your other day(s) off, consider doing some active rest. 

Active rest might sound like an oxymoron, but this protocol is a great way to recover from a hard workout week while avoiding couch-potato status. The idea is to move your body with gentle activity — easy enough so you don’t break a sweat — for 30 to 60 minutes. This kind of activity will help stretch out tight areas, get some blood flowing to ease soreness and shake out the kinks from your joints. Though it won’t burn too many calories, active rest helps flush out toxins and facilitates muscle repair. It also acts as a cross-training technique, which helps reduce the incidence of overuse injuries such as tennis elbow, tendinitis and shinsplints. As a bonus, it can promote the reduction of stress hormone levels in the body, which in turn boosts fat burning and bolsters immune system response. 

Active rest can be any activity you can think of, so long as it’s not too strenuous. Here are some great ideas for your active rest days that you can do solo or with friends and family.