The Best Exercises To Do For "Rest Day" That Still Burn Calories

By Isadora Baum

If you're still looking to burn some calories on your day off from working out, you're in luck. There are several exercises that are more low-impact, low intensity, where they put less stress on the joints and can still enable muscle repair. And, we got celebrity trainer, Astrid Swan, to weigh in on these calorie-burning; yet, rest-day appropriate workouts.

When you workout every day, without giving your body the rest it needs to rejuvenate, you increase your risk of overuse and injury. And, if that happens, you might find yourself stuck to the sidelines for a while.

What's more, if you can't exercise due to injury or chronic soreness, you might lose that motivation to stick with workouts once you're back to new. Consistency is super important for maintaining a fitness regimen and accomplishing new goals, so if you get trapped in a hiatus due to overuse, you might lose that stamina to start back up again.

Your best bet? Keep with your regular workouts in the week, but don't go all out warrior each day. Instead, include at least one or two rest days where you're engaging in non-HIIT training or strength training to give your muscles time to relax and strengthen. (Here are a few core exercises that might help.)

And, remember, the amount of rest can vary based on the individual. "Without rest, our muscles wouldn't have time to recover and build strength. However, movement every day is important so depending on how hard and how many times a week you push during the week will help determine the type of rest you require," says Swan.

Who knows, maybe with needed rest and repair you'll be able to finally perfect that handstand you've been wanting to do.

Walking/Light Jog

If you're an avid runner, you might want to ditch those sprints in favor of a light jog or brisk walk on your rest day.

"Walking/light jogging helps recovery and decreases muscle soreness by loosening up the lactic acid buildup," says Swan. What's that? When you work out, your muscles start to swell and become inflamed, as they are being broken down due to strain. This creates lactic acid within the body, which needs to be reduced through rest and repair in order for muscles to heal and soreness to ease.

And, there are tons of benefits to being in nature, so be sure to take that walk or jog in the great outdoors.

Yoga/Pilates

There's something great about getting in down dog on rest day. So, book a yoga class or do it in your own home (all you need is a mat). And, for a pre- and post-yoga snack, here are a few delicious options to fuel right.

Now, for the fitness perks. "Both yoga and pilates focus on the breath and lengthening of the muscles," says Swan.

And, lengthening the muscles helps with recovery and giving more mobility and flexibility, she says, and this can make your higher-intensity workouts easier on the joints.

Besides just for rest day, incorporating more stretching post-workout each day can be beneficial in repairing muscle tissue and improving flexibility. A tip? Get a foam roller and really get into those trigger points, like the glutes or IT band.

Cycling

This doesn't necessarily mean a rigorous spin class (which is certainly high-intensity), but going at your own pace on a spin bike or cycling outdoors on a trail can be a great rest day activity that still gets your heart up and burns cals.

Here's why. "Spinning is a great active recovery because it does not put any pressure on the joints. It also helps by sending more blood into the muscles and flushing out metabolic waste," Swan says.

And, for another way to improve blood circulation, you can try dry brushing.

The takeaway? These are all terrific ways to still burn some calories without jeopardizing your muscle health or workouts.

"Each workout will burn calories anywhere from 200-600 depending on the person," says Swan. (Yes.)

And, "all of these choices are not taxing on the body, so you should be ready to start up strong the next day without losing all the gains you have worked towards," she adds.

Of course, while stretching and meditation won't necessarily burn too many calories, they are great for recovery day, especially if you're an advanced athlete or take several HIIT classes in the week. Taking a full day of rest to do one, or both, of these practices could be what your body really needs, she says.

Besides, there are a few benefits to meditation in general, such as lowering stress and improving mindfulness in everyday life. And, if you really hate meditating, here are a few ways to get used to the practice.