woman-resting-350x122If you exercise regularly, it is important to remember that working out stresses your body. If you fail to build in adequate recovery measures, you could lose strength, rather than gaining. And recovery requires relaxation.

    Here are five tips for achieving relaxation and recovery:

    1. Measure your level of stress and adjust your intensity accordingly.
    Be aware of your heart rate variability. HRV is a way to measure the variations in time intervals between heartbeats. The greater the variance in time between heartbeats, the better.

    SweetBeat is one of several apps that make it possible for you to monitor HRV. If it detects too low a measurement, it recommends a lower-exertion workout. If the measurement is too low a second day, it recommends you take a day off and rest.

    2. Relax with breathing techniques and meditation.
    Research shows breathing techniques are the best way to reduce stress and relax. Try this breathing technique: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position. Close your eyes, and breathe through your nose. Feel your abdomen expand with every inhalation. Exhale in long, slow breaths, emptying your lungs completely.

    Begin with five minutes daily. Count each breath from one to ten, and back down to one. Your attention will wander from time to time. When it does, gently clear your mind and resume focus on your breath.

    3. Use restorative yoga techniques.
    Restorative yoga supports recovery by restoring full circulation. Put your legs up a wall, holding your hips very near the wall for five to fifteen minutes daily. When you stand, oxygenated blood will rush into your feet and ankles, reversing the effects of sitting or standing.

    4. Stay away from NSAIDs.
    Anyone who works out will inevitably get sore at times. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories like ibuprophen and aspirin ease the pain, but they can interfere with recovery.

    Pay attention to your pain. It is a sign you need to rest. Don’t ever “push through the pain.”

    5. Sleep well.
    Sleep is the ultimate restorer. To improve your sleep, do the following:

    – Avoid blue light, which promotes wakefulness.
    – Use red light, which signals sleepiness. A red night light or bathroom light can help you see without disrupting your sleep cycle.
    – Avoid computers, tablets, smartphones and television. These use blue lights.