Rest days are just as important for physical fitness and mental health as exercise – here’s why (and how) you should include them in your routine.
April 2023. This article is independently written by Shelby Golding. All opinions given are hers. Shelby has been certified as a personal trainer and nutritional specialist since 2007. In 2008, she found her passion for writing about these topics and hasn't looked back.
Taking it easy is essential for more than just your mental health – it's beneficial for your body, too! When you rest, you give your mind and body a chance to recover from life's daily activities and stressors. And for the fitness-oriented crowd, rest days are equally important as workout days!
During rest days, you give your body time to recover from injuries, build new muscle, and reenergize for better performance. These rest days can take different forms, from complete physical inactivity to lighter activities such as stretching or yoga.
This guide will explore why rest days matter and what you can do on your rest days to prevent boredom! Keep reading to learn more.
YOUR MUSCLES NEED REST DAYS!
Allowing your muscles to rest is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, as they need time to recover and rebuild after a workout. In addition, you can improve your physical (and mental) health by regularly taking the time to relax and recharge.
On the contrary, overworking your muscles without adequate rest can lead to fatigue, decreased performance, and an increased risk of injury. And too much exercise without enough rest can lead to burnout and mental exhaustion.
5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD TAKE A REST DAY
A rest day is when you take a break from your regular fitness routine and schedule time for recovery. Here are five reasons to take advantage of this enjoyable part of staying active.
Improved Muscle Recovery and Growth
Exercise causes tiny muscle tears, a normal process that helps your body get stronger and adapt to new stressors. Rest days give your muscles time to repair these tears more efficiently, which can lead to increased strength and growth. They also allow your muscles to replenish their energy (aka glycogen) stores, so you have more energy the next time you exercise.
Reduced Pain and Injury Risk
Overworking your muscles without adequate rest can lead to muscle fatigue, soreness, cramps, and injury. Rest days help prevent this by giving your body time to recover. And when your muscles are fatigued, you're also more likely to see progress plateaus.Take a break from technology and social media and give yourself time to recharge without the constant demands of tech.
Better Physical Performance
Exercise without a break takes a toll on your mind and body, interfering with concentration and focus in daily life. But a rest day can improve your performance and productivity by allowing your muscles and central nervous system to recover and recharge.
Overtraining can lead to exercise burnout, which refers to mental and physical exhaustion caused by too much physical activity. This can get in the way of your motivation to continue with your fitness goals. Adding rest days to your routine can help prevent burnout and make it easier to stay motivated.
Rest days benefit not only your physical health but also your mental and emotional health, all of which help you live a fulfilling life. And taking a break from exercise can reduce stress and anxiety to improve your overall well-being. This is even more important for individuals with chronic pain, illness, or mental health problems.
THINK ABOUT YOUR MENTAL HEALTH!
If you have difficulty taking a break from your fitness routine, remember that your mental health is as important as your physical health. And while exercise is good for mental health, it's not the only thing your mind needs to stay healthy.
Taking a rest day allows you to engage in activities that boost your mental health, such as volunteering, hobbies, journaling, meditation, or spending time with loved ones.
Prioritizing mental health can positively impact your overall well-being and enhance your ability to achieve your fitness goals in the long run.
HOW TO WORK ACTIVE REST INTO YOUR ROUTINE
An active rest day is when you choose low-intensity exercises like walking, swimming, or yoga. The goal is to give your body a break from high-intensity workouts while staying active to promote movement and circulation. Here are some ways to incorporate active rest into your fitness routine.
Yoga or Stretching
Yoga and stretching allow you to get low-intensity activity while improving your flexibility and mobility. These activities can also help you reduce stress, anxiety, and tension.
Low-impact activities such as gentle walking, hiking, cycling, Pilates, or swimming promote circulation without putting too much stress on your muscles. Walking and hiking are always ideal ways to get some sunshine and fresh air; each activity can also help you relax and de-stress.
Foam rolling is a self-myofascial release technique that helps release muscle tension, improve range of motion, decrease soreness, and break up any scar tissue in your muscles. It works by using a foam roller to apply pressure to tight muscles – here's a short routine to help you get started..
REMEMBER TO REPLACE THE ENERGY STORES IN YOUR BODY
During exercise, your body uses glycogen to provide your muscles with energy. And these energy stores need to be replenished to maintain energy levels and support recovery.
While most diets will replace glycogen stores, consuming a balanced meal or snack containing carbohydrates and protein within 30 minutes to an hour after exercise is best. Then, on your rest day, focus on balanced meals and snacks with plenty of carbs, fats, and proteins, even if you generally eat low-carb! This helps restore glycogen levels, repair muscle tissue, and promote recovery.
GET READY FOR BETTER PERFORMANCE!
Taking time off from exercise is essential for your muscles to recover and prevent injuries. Also, it helps to prevent injuries, allow muscle recovery, prevent burnout, and boost mental and emotional well-being. However, this doesn't necessarily mean stopping exercise altogether, as light activities can help keep your body active while allowing for rest and recovery.
The amount of time off needed varies based on factors like fitness level, workout intensity, and health conditions, and it's best to consult a professional for personalized recommendations.
ALWAYS LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Remember, listening to your body is important, as is taking a rest day when needed. For example, if you wake up feeling sore, tired, or run down, taking a break from exercise that day is probably best, even if you haven't planned for it. Taking rest days when you're injured or dealing with chronic pain is also ideal.
You have several options for how you'll spend your rest day. You can relax at home, walk in nature, join a yoga class, or spend time with pets, family, or friends. You can also try meditation, tai chi, or other relaxing activities. These rest days allow your muscles and joints to rebuild and reduce the risk of injury and inflammation while preventing mental fatigue and burnout.
However, if you have a history of chronic pain and your doctor has cleared you to work out even when you're feeling symptoms, Kailo is here to help! The Kailo Patch is designed to provide pain relief in seconds after application, so just apply it near the site of pain and breathe a sigh of relief.
You can apply your Kailo Pain Patch every day to alleviate your aches and pains as you work towards a pain-free life. A recent clinical study showed that Kailo is more effective than other prescription and over-the-counter medications, with no side effects!
Disclaimer: Kailo should not be used if you have a pacemaker or are pregnant. Always consult your doctor or health care professional before using Kailo.