Ensuring we have enough rest after exercise is essential, even though some of us may still feel guilty if we take a day off or think that it will hinder our progress. Rest is physically necessary for our muscles to repair, rebuild and strengthen.
The benefits of a rest day include the following:
– Promotes muscle recovery – Exercise depletes the body’s energy stores (muscle glycogen) and it also causes muscle tissue to break down. Adequate muscle recovery time allows the body to “fix” both of these issues, replenishing the body’s energy stores and repairing damaged tissues.
– Helps overcome adaptation – When we undergo the stress of physical exercise, our body adapts and becomes more efficient. Once we adapt to a given stress, we require additional stress to continue to make progress. Doing too much work too quickly will result in injury or muscle damage yet doing too little too slowly will not result in any improvement.
– Prevents overtraining – Too little rest and too few recovery days can lead to overtraining syndrome. The consequences of overtraining can include increase in body fat, increase in the risk of dehydration, lower libido, and worsen our mood.
– Promotes Relaxation – Taking a rest day also gives our mind and body a break! Creating a healthy life is all about balance. It involves finding a way to split our time between home, work and our fitness routine.
The number of rest days needed will vary based on the type and intensity of our exercise. Rest days may be used as a passive recovery day – taking the day entirely off from exercise, or as active recovery in which we engage in low-intensity exercise (walking, stretching and yoga) placing minimal stress on the body, if any. During active recovery our body works to repair soft tissue (muscles, tendons, and ligaments) and helps with the removal of chemicals that build up as a result of cell activity during exercise.
Regardless of our exercise schedule, it’s important to listen to our body. It will tell us if it needs a rest day, even if it’s a day we are supposed to be working out instead 😊