Many athletes and lifters scoff at the idea of doing any form of steady state cardio, let alone the lowest level activities such as walking and biking. But from a regeneration and recovery perspective, low-level cardio can minimize joint stress, thus improving daily activity levels on a day away from the gym while still tapping into your cardio-respiratory system to aid in central systemic-based recovery. (That's a good thing.)
Aerobic Energy Systems Development
By replacing an off day with an active recovery day, we're able to burn more calories with very low central nervous system or mechanical fatigue to the body.
That said, use of intra-workout nutrition ensures this active recovery method doesn't put you in the caloric hole for the day, and maybe even the week.
This is especially important if you choose to extend the aerobic based energy systems training for more than 30-45 minutes. The last thing we want to do during an active recovery day is to cause fatigue. Proper nutrition and using variations in your aerobic work will keep this from happening.
How Low Is "Low Level" Cardio?
Shoot for a heart rate of 100-125 beats per minute through walking, hiking, biking, and even the dreaded elliptical. The goal here is to keep joint stress to a minimum, burn a few calories, fuel up, and prepare for the workout ahead.
Turn your switch down to low and realize that the more strategic you are on your recovery days, the better you can let it rip in your training. Want more info? See the related links below.