This expanded Fitness Friday post is for all you exercise enthusiasts out there that are working hard each day towards your fitness goals.
Dedication is important in achieving those goals, but it is also critical to know that you do, in fact, need a break! Rest days are equally as important as the workouts themselves in building strength, endurance, and muscle. This applies to everyone from weight-lifters to cardio-lovers.
Take. A. Break.
Without ample rest, you are putting your body at risk to injury. The overuse of your muscles and joints can lead to injuries such as...
When lifting weights, your muscles are actually experiencing microscopic tears in your muscle fibers. The lack of rest prevents your immune system from having the adequate time it needs to repair and grow those fibers. Otherwise, you will not see the benefits of your workouts! Aside from the physical limitations you are subjecting your body to when you overlook your rest days, you will also begin to experience mental fatigue. Over exercising can result in reluctance towards your workout routine and eventually lead to a burnout.
Rest days keep your motivation high by rewarding you, in a sense, for the hard work you’re putting into your body and giving you a chance to look forward to exercising again the next day. And along those same lines, you are putting your body in an ongoing state of restlessness that can diminish your sleep quality and lead to long nights of tossing and turning. If you aren’t getting the eight hours of sleep your body needs to rejuvenate, you are sacrificing the benefits of your workout.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio per week for adults, and two to three days of strength training for each major muscle group with at least 48 hours of rest in between. That being said, I encourage you to build in one or two days during your week to get the well-deserved rest your body needs! You will experience less mental and physical fatigue, see greater results, and prevent your body from injury. After all, recovering from an injury may take you away from your exercise for a more substantial period of time than just one day!
But when is a good day to rest...??
Sunday would be an ideal day to set aside time to recover and take it easy. It’s also a perfect day to reflect on your past week of training, organize your plan for the coming week, and set new goals. If you’re feeling beat after your last workout, don’t hesitate to take the following day to completely rest. However, if you’re feeling pretty good or just a little sore, I suggest you consider performing recovering activities which boost the blood flow to your muscles and enhancing the delivery of nutrients which facilitates their repair and growth. Small bouts of movement throughout your rest day are important!
Stay tuned next week for one of the most beneficial recovery activity for athletes—yoga!!
Fitness Friday Guru + Nourish Intern