Are you an avid exerciser? Do you crave a good workout and wake up excited to hit the gym? We often spend more time talking about why you should work out more and less time talking whether or not you may need to work out less. So let’s look at the importance of rest days from exercise for the good of your physical and emotional health.
During periods of rest, your body heals and recovers. Muscles repair and rebuild. When you exercise, your body is put under intense pressure. Exercise breaks down muscle tissue and without periods of recovery, your body can’t sufficiently repair the tissue. Including both active and recovery days is part of a well-balanced exercise routine. The more intense the workout routine, the longer the recovery period should be.
The importance of rest days is also highlighted by the prevalence of overuse injuries and joint pain that results without recovery days. Knowing the difference between soreness from working your muscles and pain that results from overexertion and overuse is important. Your body needs a break from the stress that results from the repetition of exercise. Vary your routine and incorporate rest days for a stronger and healthier body.
While a healthy exercise routine can stave off depression and anxiety, too much of a good thing can backfire. Because exercise raises the cortisol levels in our body, if you are already under stress in other areas of your life, the extra cortisol prevents your body from working optimally. The need for a brain break and normal cortisol levels supports the importance of rest days from exercise. Focus on getting a good night’s sleep instead.
Muscles grow during rest periods. Strength gains happen during the rest and recovery period, not from the workout itself. Your body replaces glycogen (energy stores) that are lost during workouts. With adequate rest, you are able to return fully recovered to your workout routine and discover you are able to lift more, jump higher, or move faster than you did in your previous workout. Without a rest day, you’re unable to allow this growth to occur.
Healthy Immune Response
The importance of rest days from exercise is also observed among those who stay healthy while working out. With rest, your body replenishes cells and boosts your ability to fend off attacks. While exercise can boost your body’s immune response, too much exercise, or too vigorous of a workout routine without rest days can hurt your immunity. Sleep, active recovery, and mobility workouts can help your body heal more quickly.
While exercise is one of the most important parts of a healthy lifestyle, the importance of rest days from exercise is equally observed. During these off days, muscle tissue heals and grows, glycogen is replenished, likelihood of injuries decreases, immune response is boosted, and your brain gets the healthy break it needs. Use these recommendations and make any adjustments necessary to your current routine to support a healthy mind and body.