If you play sports, it’s likely that at some point, you’ll have a niggle. It might be a strained muscle, aching joints or just general fatigue. While it’s important to rest and allow your body to recover, there is evidence to suggest that low-intensity exercise can actually help the healing process.
What Is Low-Intensity Sport?
Before we look at the benefits of low-intensity sports, it’s important to understand what we mean by the term. Low-intensity exercise is defined as any activity that keeps your heart rate below 50% of its maximum. So, if your maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute, then you would categorize anything below 90 beats per minute.
There are a number of different activities that would fall into this category, including walking, swimming and tennis.
The Benefits Of Low-Intensity Sport
Low-intensity sports can help with recovery and healing in a number of ways.
1. It can help to reduce pain levels
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins, which are hormones that act as natural painkillers. Endorphins bind to opioid receptors in the brain, which reduces the perception of pain.
2. It can improve joint function:
Exercise helps to lubricate the joints and keeps the cartilage healthy. This is particularly important for people who suffer from conditions like arthritis.
3. It can increase muscle strength
Low-intensity exercise helps to maintain and even increase muscle strength. This is important for both injury prevention and rehabilitation.
4. It can boost the immune system
Exercise has been shown to improve the function of the immune system. This means that you’re less likely to succumb to colds and other infections.
5. It can aid recovery
Low-intensity exercise helps to increase blood flow and the delivery of nutrients to the muscles. This can speed up the recovery process following an injury.
So, if you’re looking to aid your recovery from an injury, or simply want to maintain your health and well-being, then low-intensity exercise could be for you.
Low-Intensity Sports For Recovery
If you’re looking to incorporate low-intensity exercise into your routine, then there are a number of different sports and activities that you can try. Here we’ll take a look at five of the best.
1. Swimming: Swimming is an excellent low-intensity activity that offers a whole host of benefits. It’s easy on the joints, helps to increase blood flow and can boost muscle strength. Additionally, the water provides resistance, which can help to tone the muscles.
2. Walking: Walking is a great way to get some low-intensity exercise into your day. It’s easy to do and doesn’t require any special equipment. Make sure that you walk at a gentle pace and avoid any hills or inclines, as these will increase your heart rate.
3. Yoga: Yoga is an excellent way to improve flexibility and joint function. It’s also been shown to help reduce pain levels and promote relaxation. There are a number of different yoga styles and poses that you can try, so it’s important to find a class that’s suitable for your level of fitness.
4. Tai Chi: Tai chi is a form of martial art that involves slow, graceful movements. It’s an excellent way to improve balance and joint function, and tai chi has been shown to help reduce stress levels and promote relaxation. Interestingly, tai chi has also been found to improve cognitive function in older adults.
5. Cycling: Cycling is a great way to get some low-intensity exercise without putting too much strain on the joints. It’s easy to do, and you can cycle at your own pace. If you don’t have a bike, then you can try using a home exercise bike or even a stationary bike at the gym.
A Simple Low-Intensity Sports Routine
Let’s finish by looking at a simple low-intensity sports routine that you can try. This routine is suitable for beginners and can be done at home with no special equipment required.
1. Begin by walking for 5 minutes to warm up your muscles.
2. Next, do some gentle stretching to further warm up your muscles and improve your flexibility.
3. Now it’s time to start your low-intensity workout. Start by walking at a moderate pace for 2 minutes, then jog slowly for 1 minute. Alternate between these two exercises for a total of 20 minutes.
4. To cool down, walk slowly for 5 minutes and then do some more stretching exercises.
5. Finish up by drinking plenty of fluids to rehydrate your body.
This simple, low-intensity sports routine can be done at home without any special equipment. Remember to start slowly and build up your intensity level gradually. And most importantly, listen to your body and stop if you experience any pain or discomfort.