Keep on Pushin'?
Still, your muscles may not need to take a total break from movement in order to fully recover. One study found low-intensity post-workout exercise—such as swimming laps or taking a walk—can increase muscle relaxation, which benefits recovery. Other research suggests muscles can work to full capacity even while in the recovery stage. And keep in mind that "recovery" doesn't necessarily mean sitting on your couch all day either: Yoga, Pilates, light jogging, or swimming can be considered "rest day" activities, depending on your fitness level.
You can also look to more mellow treatments to speed recovery, including icing, heating, static stretching, and massage therapy. (Don't forget about the trusty foam roller!) Another way to speed recovery: Pay attention to proper post-workout nutrition, including adequate amounts of protein.
More from Greatist: Foam Roll to Relieve Muscle Pain
The Bottom Line
There's no magic formula for optimal days of rest. Take your fitness level, intensity, frequency, and duration of activity into account, and look for signs that the body needs a break, like chronic muscle or joint soreness and impaired physical performance. Be sure to recognize the difference between pain and soreness, and most of all, don't be afraid to take some time off.