The Importance of a Rest Day
By now, everyone knows that to keep their body in shape and healthy, they have to stay regularly active. Whether you choose to cycle or lift weights, there are countless options available to you. People of all fitness levels can find a routine that fits their skills and their needs. While it can be hard to find the motivation to get active, once you get into a rhythm, it can be hard to break. However, whether you are training for a marathon or simply trying to stay fit and healthy, it’s crucial that you only do what you need to. Often, people think more is better, but that’s not always the case.
There is a fine line between getting the right amount of exercise and overtraining your body. When you overwork, your performance will decrease, and you increase your likelihood of suffering an injury. That is why it is vital that you take a rest day every once in a while to give your body a chance to recover and refresh. We know that people do not want to miss a day at the gym. However, taking a rest day may help them achieve their goals sooner.
At Fitness Nation, we are here to help everyone reach their fitness goals. Whether it’s through one of our classes or working out using free weights, we hope our facilities provide members with everything they need. However, we also understand the importance of a rest day, which we would like to share with you today.
Dangers of Not Resting
When you push your brain too hard at work or in school, you burnout. The same can and will happen if you overwork your body. There are many dangers to working too much without rest. Some are more serious than others. Some of the risks include:
- Increased risk of injury
- Reduced physical performance
- Prolonged muscle soreness
- Reduced energy
- Nagging injuries
As you can see, overworking yourself can lead to unwanted outcomes that are detrimental to your progress. Without rest days, you’ll set yourself up for failure.
Benefits of a Rest Day
People often get it into their heads that more is better when it comes to exercise. However, that’s not always true. Working out too much can do more harm than good. Rest days are just as important as exercise. After all, all workout regimen would not be complete without at least one rest day a week. Giving yourself a regular break lets your body recover and repair itself. You’ll find that you can reach your fitness goals faster if you rest regularly. There are numerous benefits to taking a rest day.
Arguably the best thing about rest days is that they give your body time to heal and recover. People often see rest days as just being lazy and not putting in the work, but they are crucial to the process. After all, rest days promote muscle growth. See, when you workout out, you create microscopic tears in your muscle tissue. When you rest, cells called fibroblasts heal and repair your muscles, helping them grow and expand. The result will be stronger muscles.
Additionally, your muscles store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen. Your body draws from your glycogen stores when it needs energy. During exercise, your body calls on these stores more than usual. Taking a rest day allows your body to replenish these stores before your next workout.
Prevents Muscle Fatigue
As we just mentioned, your muscles store glycogen, which your body feeds on for energy. These stores are depleted faster when you work out. If you do not give your body time to replenish these glycogen stores, you will experience muscle fatigue much sooner than usual. Your muscle soreness will also last much longer. Sleeping well, staying hydrated, and eating a healthy diet all help replenish your glycogen stores.
Reduces Risk of Injury
Whenever you over train, you put too much stress on your muscles and joints. You’ll be left with frequent bouts of pain. The more overworked your muscles are, the more likely you are to have bad form, drop weights, or take a wrong step. Naturally, overworked muscles are weaker than fresh ones. What you typically lift or do may not be as easy as before, which can lead to serious injuries. Ironically, these injuries will lead to more rest days than you planned.
If you combine all the factors up above, they will lead to an increase in physical performance. By giving your body a chance to recuperate, you let your muscles heal. After healing, they grow and increase in strength. Resting allows your energy stores to replenish, giving you enough energy to conquer any workout. Injuries will happen far less often than if you overtrained. Your muscles won’t be fatigued, meaning you can work out harder and longer. As you can see, rest days are essential to improving your physical performance.
When Should You Take a Rest Day?
When and how often you take rest days will depend on the kind of workout program you follow. If you engage in light to moderate cardio, you likely won’t need to rest near as often or at all. But if you engage in intense cardio, you should rest every three to five days.
For weight training, most programs incorporate rotating the muscles you work each day. Usually, once you work a muscle group, you let those muscles rest for a day or two. On the other days, you work different muscle groups, giving each group enough time to rest while you hit others. However, it is still good to set aside a whole-body rest day to let yourself fully recover.
A general rule of thumb is to listen to your body. It will let you know when it needs time to recover. Some signs include:
- Increased muscle soreness
- Decreased performance
- Trouble sleeping
- Fatigue, even when not exercising
- Trouble concentrating
- High stress levels
- Sustaining nagging injuries
What to Do
On your rest days, make sure you are eating enough protein. Protein boosts muscle repair while you rest. Eat plenty of complex carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen levels. Fruits and vegetables also support recovery. And of course, drink plenty of water to keep yourself hydrated. Also, just because you are resting does not mean you can’t stay active.
Yoga is a great way to stay busy on a rest day. It boosts body awareness, improves flexibility, focuses on breathing, and builds strength while loosening up your muscles. It promotes calmness and leaves you feeling refreshed and relaxed. Casual walking and swimming are also low-impact workouts that do not stress your body. However, you don’t have to stay active during a rest day. You can take the day to rest up and relax until your body is ready to get after it again.
Staying active is crucial to your overall health and well-being. However, too much exercise can be a problem. It is vital to take rest days to let your body recover and heal. Not only will you avoid injuries, but your performance will improve. Fitness Nation encourages everyone to get active. If you haven’t already, join Fitness Nation today.