We all know how important it is to maintain a regular intensive exercise routine that includes cardiovascular training along with resistance (strength) training as part of a healthy lifestyle, but not everyone is aware of how important it is to also build rest days into their program. Our body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken even the strongest of us.
Rest is Important!
Rest days are critical to an active training routine for a variety of reasons. Some are physiological, while some are psychological. Rest is physically necessary so that our muscles can repair, rebuild, and strengthen. Psychologically, building in rest days can help maintain a better balance between home, work and fitness goals.
In an extreme case of too few rest and recovery days, we can begin to experience over-training syndrome, whose signs include a feeling of general malaise, staleness, depression, decreased athletic performance, and increased risk of injury, among others.
What Happens During Recovery?
The recovery time you build into your program is time well-spent. This is the time where your body adapts to the stress of exercise you’ve put it through and the real benefits of your exercise are realized. Recovery also allows the body to replenish the energy you’ve burned through and repair damaged tissues.
In my article, I highlighted that exercise causes our muscle tissue to break down and our energy stores (muscle glycogen) to deplete. While the nutrition component is crucial to provide your body with the right building blocks to repair itself, it needs TIME as well to do the job right. That’s what our recovery days provide. Without sufficient time to repair and replenish, our bodies will never be able to fully repair and will actually continue to breakdown from intensive exercise. If this happens, you’ll start to experience the symptoms of over-training I described above.
OK, What Do I Do On My Rest Day?
Let me be clear here. A rest day does not give you a license to sit on your tush all day! In fact, no activity at all can leave your muscles much more stiff and sore than if you engaged in a milder form of exercise. Instead of doing nothing on your off-days, go for a walk on the beach, practice yoga, or just take some time to get a good stretch in. There are so many open spaces and resources on the coast to take advantage of! These types of activities will help your muscles to stay pliable and keep the blood flowing while the repair process takes care of your body and prepares you for your next workout.
Incorporated properly, rest days can make your regular workout days much stronger and enjoyable as you’ll feel refreshed and strong and ready to move! How do you spend your rest days? Where do you go and what do you do? I'd love to hear from you.
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