A Lazy Person’s Guide to Active Rest

How do you actively rest?

In general, most of us use rest days as an excuse to be lazy. After all, we earned it after working out 5-6 days a week. If you’ve read other blogs about this topic or visited any fitness websites, you will find that most of them suggest alternate ways to exercise during your active rest days. I’m sorry, but the last thing I want to do is any type of exercise on my rest days. However, that does not mean I lay down on my couch and watch TV all day. You shouldn’t either.

Let me clarify what ACTIVE REST means. It basically means that during your rest periods, you remain active by performing light exercises. This could be during an actual workout, where instead of taking a 30-45 sec of rest between sets, you partake in some easy movement (such as stretching, walking around or lightly jogging in place). It could also be during your rest days, where you perform some sort of light exercise such as jogging, swimming, playing a sport, biking or doing yoga.

Neither of these are my favourite! I personally hate the idea of doing inter-set workouts because I get exhausted from doing a set and I cannot do the next set as well as I did the first – either my form is compromised or my reps are minimized. I rather use my rest periods to stare at myself and the awesome progress I’ve made in the mirror – thank you very much.


If you’re like me, then try NEAT on your “ACTIVE REST DAY” instead.


NEAT stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. It’s also called NEPA, which stands for Non-Exercise Physical Activity. In a nutshell, NEAT is the energy used for everything that is not sleeping, eating or exercising (1).  The purpose of doing more of NEPA is to remain active during your day without having to make an extra effort, such as you would dressing up and driving to go to the gym, just to even be physically active.

Instead, you can clean your house, mow the lawn, rake the leaves, shovel the snow, play with your dog, play with your kids or  take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator. It can even be as simple as standing more often than sitting during the day. Of course, if you’re a consistent gym-goer, simply standing is not going to cut it for your active rest day, but at least you know it’s an option!

Just remember, if you’re already dedicating a portion of your day to working out, don’t waste your efforts by being a couch potato for the rest of the time. Make sure you’re constantly moving around!


  1. Levine JA. Nonexercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT): environment and biology. Am J Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2004 May;286(5):E675-85. Review. Erratum in: Physiol Endocrinol Metab. 2005 Jan;288(1):E285.






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