Active Recovery Over 50 to Keep Muscles Strong, Pliable for Long-Term Fitness Goals

Two women doing mobility active recovery

Active recovery is one of the best tools in our Over 50 Toolbox that keep our muscles strong and pliable so we can continue striving for our long-term fitness goals. Just as our over 50 workouts keep those muscles strong, active recovery over 50 keep us pliable, more mobile, enhancing our ability to perform better.

Active recovery is an essential component of fitness and it’s also essential in reaching your long-term fitness goals. It’s where is where the good stuff happens, where you repair and rebuild.

Active recovery helps keeps injuries away and staves off burnout. It also provides a mental break, giving you the opportunity to strengthen your mind and body.

To exercise lovers over 50, there’s nothing better than that confident, accomplished feeling from a good workout to keep our muscles strong. We feel confident, capable, happy, and have less stress. We look forward to that pleasurable hit of dopamine triggered by and a result of our workout.

Active Recovery Helps You Gain More from Your Training

Adults over 50 should be strength training at a moderate to high intensity level of training and for a minimum of twice a week. And after those good and more challenging workouts, you may feel some soreness. Two or three days after that glorious workout, DOMs, or delayed onset soreness, can set in.

One of the most effective tools you’ll have in your over 50 fitness toolbox that can help reduce muscle soreness is active recovery. And by reducing soreness, you’ll be more focused on keeping your long-term fitness goal.

Because exercise depletes the energy stores as well as causing muscle tissue to breakdown, both of these issues need replenishing and repairing. Not enough recovery can lead to overtraining and injuries.

Active recovery over 50 may take longer because our muscle tissues take longer to heal and our protein synthesis is slower. Meaning, our ability to active muscle growth and repair decreases as we age. Supplementing protein may show benefits, but that’ another topic for another time.

There are two types of recovery, active and passive.

Active recovery is a low intensity activity with gentle, non-strenuous movement. Active recovery gets the blood circulating and helps remove the toxin build up (waste products from muscle breakdown) from exercising. By decreasing the amount of lactic acid build up in the muscle, the pH balance is restored in the body. The circulating blood also brings in nutrients that help repair and rebuild those fatigued muscles.

Passive recovery, on the other hand, doesn’t require movement. Passive recovery is generally used as a day of rest.

Because active recovery helps get rid of the lactate accumulation in the muscles (DOMS), brings oxygen and more blood circulation to the muscles, active recovery is the one we promote.

How and When to Use Active Recovery

There are three ways you can put active recovery into your workout schedule.

Active Recovery Between Your Exercise Sets

Women doing active recovery yoga

Putting low intensity movement between your exercise sets, using a circuit format, can improve your endurance and get you some aerobic benefits. So instead of standing around waiting to start your next set (passive recovery), add more fitness, health and efficiency benefits to your workout.

The slower, less intense movements of active recovery provide you with an opportunity to perfect your practice by mastering your moves.

Using active recovery between sets has been shown to allow athletes to perform for longer periods of time without fatigue and sustain their output.

Some examples of active recovery in this instance are mobility work, low-intensity, non-explosive movement, low impact cardio puts less stress on the joints and on the nervous system.

Active Recovery Immediately Following Your Workout

To get the best results from your workout, spend about 6 to 10 minutes afterwards by adding some active recovery with a nice cool down. This is where you’ve done the work, feel proud, good energy is flowing and your mood is positive and relaxed. It’s one of my favorite times to marvel in the beauty of the strength.

We always advise to never come to a sudden and complete halt to your workout sessions. Gradually cool down by bringing your pace down to slow and easy, gently bringing down your heart rate. You could do a light walk or biking until your heart rate and nervous system is relaxed and back to normal.

This is a great time to stretch those muscles that have been working hard for you. You could also do some foam rolling. Jennifer has a great video to share below. And you can do yoga on Vigor and Trim.

“It is a shame for a man to grow old without seeing the

beauty and strength of which his body is capable.” Socrates

Active Recovery on Rest Days

Here’s where you take a look at your workout schedule. Your strength training days may be two to three days a week. And you will have one to two rest days in between depending on the intensity of your workout.

Active recovery on your rest days might include some type of cardio workout. Hiking or walking in nature, riding a bike, using cardio equipment like an elliptical or rowing machine. You might take a swim.

These activities are at least 30 minutes. Starting out slow and increasing your pace and holding it there at a steady-state and where you can still hold a conversation.

Working with resistance bands or bodyweight work can also be considered. Just make sure you’re not working out at full throttle. These are light, easy workouts.

The Goal of Active Recovery

Understanding the benefits of active recovery will you get over that guilt feeling of having to workout every day. Think of active recovery as your effort toward mind-body and life-work balance. Optimal rest time between workouts is between 48 and 72 hours.

And benefits that you’ll receive are both physiological and psychological. Here’s a short (2:28 minutes) video excerpts from a talk Donnalynn of Vigor and Trim gave on Peak Performance. You’ll find out why stress and good recovery are both important to the body and the mind.