- Athletes, fitness professionals, and recreational exercisers are increasingly interested in their recovery, not just their physical exertion.
- It’s when recovering after a workout that the muscles repair and build, and research shows that sleeping for longer can lead to better fitness progress.
- A new breed of wearable tech places as much emphasis on recovery as activity, helping users avoid over-training by telling them how hard they can push themselves each day.
- Fitness fans told Insider such trackers are “invaluable” for finding balance.
- The image of what it means to be fit and healthy is changing, and wellness spaces are adapting as a result.
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The culture of fitness has traditionally been all about striving for more, pushing yourself harder, translating mental strength and resilience into physical.
But over the past few years, that’s started to change.
Increasingly, athletes and amateur fitness fans are realizing just how important recovery is to making progress, that more isn’t always better, and so the culture is starting to shift.
No longer is it considered admirable to push through when you’re feeling mentally and physically exhausted — in contrast, the goal is listening to your body and knowing when to rest.
Recovery is essential because exercise depletes your energy stores and fluids, and the body needs time to replenish these.
While fluids can generally be restocked quite quickly, studies show that it takes at least 24 hours for muscle glycogen (energy used by the muscles) to be replenished after working out — consuming enough carbs and protein helps too.
It’s only through recovering sufficiently that you’re then able to train effectively when you are working out.
“When training with frequency, intensity, or even to offset a sedentary lifestyle, attention to recovery is critical to achieve results and also ensure longevity,” Rob Smyth, CEO and Founder of global gym UN1T, told Insider.
Studies prove that recovering properly leads to faster progress
There are both physiological and psychological benefits to getting ample rest around your training, and studies prove this.
You might think you’re building muscle by pumping iron in the gym or guzzling down protein shakes and chicken breasts, but it’s in fact when we’re recovering (and specifically when we’re asleep), that our bodies rebuild.
Exercise results in microscopic tears of the muscle fiber. The body needs time to repair, and that’s how muscle and strength are built.
A 2011 study compared two groups of individuals on a calorie-controlled diet. Half slept 5.5 hours a night, the other half for 8.5.
The researchers found that those who’d slept for a shorter period of time lost 55% less fat and 60% more muscle mass by the end of the fortnight than the group who slept for longer.