There’s no denying that regular exercise is important for your fitness levels and overall health. No matter what your goals are, a combination of cardio and strength training can almost always help you reach them. When you start to see results from your efforts, it can be extremely motivating. You might want to push yourself further, and see the fruits of your labor faster. Unfortunately, that can cause problems. It’s very easy to overdo it when it comes to exercise, and your body will try to tell you when that’s happening. Do you feel constantly fatigued? Have you hit a plateau in your results? If so, you could probably benefit from understanding the importance of a rest day or two.
Rest days are just as important for your health and fitness as active workout days. Working out every day with no breaks can not only increase your risk of injury, but it can cause you to burn out. No matter how much you love what you’re doing, that kind of fatigue can cause you to abandon your fitness routine.
If you’ve been exercising every day and you’re starting to feel unmotivated and tired, let’s talk more about the importance of a rest day, and how you can make the most of your days off.
So many guys have been “trained” to think that working out every day is the only way to achieve your fitness goals. In reality, it can keep you from hitting the goals you really want. While we already touched on plateauing and burning out, there are more serious risks involved with exercising every day.
Still not convinced? Consider the following things that happen to your body when you don’t give it the rest it needs:
Additionally, a lack of rest days can impact your mental health. At best, you’ll start to feel cranky, experience mood swings, and find that you’re easily irritable. At worst, you could start to experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. If you find yourself feeling “down” for no real reason, or even snapping at people you care about, it could be your mind and body telling you that it’s time to take a break.
The risks of not taking a rest day should be enough for you to make them part of your fitness regimen. But, there’s good news.
There are also many benefits to rest days, and they can make it easier to keep working out safely and effectively.
The most obvious benefit of the importance of a rest day is that a day or two off gives your muscles a chance to repair themselves. No matter what type of workout you do, your muscles can become fatigued and “damaged”. They need time to heal so they can grow. That’s when you’ll start to see results, whether you’re goal is to make some gains or get leaner.
Taking a rest day will also help your next workout to be more successful. When you exercise, your body breaks down glycogen to give you enough fuel. Your glycogen levels become depleted after a workout and need time to replenish themselves. A rest day will help you to “refuel” so you’re ready to go hard during your next session. Since you’ll be stronger and your muscles will have had a chance to heal, your risk of getting injured is also less when you make rest a priority.
Finally, you’ll sleep better. Constant exercise can overproduce hormones like adrenaline, making it difficult to get enough sleep. Not enough rest can cause your performance to struggle and can contribute to fatigue, as well as a variety of health conditions.
Getting enough sleep is crucial when you’re trying to maintain a fitness regimen, so improving your sleep quality with a day off will make a big difference in your overall health, as well as reaching your goals.
Contrary to what you might be thinking, rest days aren’t about laying on the couch binge-watching The Witcher with a bag of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. While there’s nothing wrong with relaxing, you’ll get more out of your rest days if you consider them to be an important part of your routine, rather than a break away from your regimen.
So, how should you make the most of your days off?
One of the best ways to take advantage of a rest day is to try a low-impact workout, like:
Or, get in some light exercise by doing something fun and different. Head to the beach with friends or your dog and play a game of Frisbee or walk along the sand. Don’t think about any physical activity as “working out”. Instead, focus on having fun while staying active and make sure not to overdo it.
Focusing on your diet is also important for rest and recovery. Your body might not need as many calories if you aren’t burning them off in a workout, but it does need a lot of protein for your muscles to repair themselves. It also needs more complex carbohydrates to replenish your glycogen levels, as well as plenty of water to keep your muscles hydrated and deliver nutrients throughout your body.
Even though gentle activity is important, that doesn’t mean you can’t take some time to actually “rest” on your day off. Consider taking a warm, muscle-relaxing bath to reduce stress and make you feel more at ease. You can even use a bath bomb with Epsom salts to work out the aches and pains in your muscles. Just make sure to switch up your “pampering” techniques – using bath bombs too often may end up clogging your drain.
Taking care of your body and keeping it fit requires rest. If you stop and listen to what your body needs, it could be begging you for a day off – especially if you’ve been going hard during your workouts. Rest days don’t make you lazy and they certainly won’t hinder your progress. In fact, they’ll end up doing just the opposite. If you haven’t already, it’s important to understand the importance of a rest day. And make regular rest days a part of your workout regimen, and it won’t take long to see the benefits.
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