The Importance Of Rest Days
It may be strange to say, but working out every day can be counterproductive to your goals.
Think about it: When you work out your muscles are creating tiny tears in their fibers, if you don’t give them time to rest, they can’t heal properly.
Overtraining Syndrome is a serious issue that many exercise enthusiasts will experience at some point or another. Some of the symptoms include sore muscles, restless nights, loss of appetite, mood swings, etc. People that overtrain are often forced to take long breaks to recover, regressing any progress that may have been made.
With that in mind, how often should you work out? Well, the answer depends on what your goals are and what routines you're focused on. For example, if you want to increase your cardio endurance, then a 24-hour break is fine. If you are working on strength training, then a much longer break of 48 to 72 hours is required, as your muscles will need more time to heal.
Some people feel restless when they don’t spend a day exercising, which is perfectly valid. Try some of these rest day activities that will help heal your body, while still letting out some pent-up energy.
Restorative yoga is one of the best things you can do on an active rest day. You are stretching your muscles and circulating your blood, not to mention it can be very meditative.
If you have a pool or access to a body of water, then swimming is an amazing option for you! Aquatic exercise is super low impact. The resistance of the water gives your muscles a light workout, while the buoyancy will keep you from overworking your joints.
Cycling is a great low-impact sport that gives your legs and lower body a chance to stretch. Take it easy on some flat, paved trails in your local park or jump on an indoor bicycle and do a few laps.
Taking a quick, easy walk around the park on a flat or relatively flat trail is another great exercise. If you can’t go outdoors, a treadmill will also do. Put on some relaxing music and take an easy stroll. Remember, the goal isn’t to break a sweat, it is to stretch your muscles and get your blood flowing.
Bust out your favorite dance moves! Dancing can be so fun that you forget that you are exercising. Save the break dancing for later though, simple moves that extend your arms and legs are enough for an active rest day.
Get out your foam roller and relieve the tension in your muscles. Using a foam roller can speed up the recovery process and will leave you feeling better than ever.
Pilates focuses on your breathing and strengthening your core muscles. This makes it a great exercise on active rest days for runners as their core muscles tend to be underdeveloped compared to the rest of their body.
The important thing to remember is to take it easy on rest days. These activities should be low impact to give your muscles and joints time to rebuild and heal themselves. To help your body heal even faster, eat a diet rich in nutritious food with plenty of protein, increase your water intake, and make sure you are getting adequate amounts of sleep each evening.