Regular exercisers are always on a quest for the perfect workout routine: one that is enjoyable, gives you the results you want and leaves you feeling full of energy and ready to take on the world. While we often focus primarily on a cardio and strength-training plan, there is another important component to your exercise program that is often overlooked, despite its many benefits. This missing puzzle piece has the power to improve the quality of your workouts, to improve your fitness level and help you feel better. What is this secret ingredient? Believe it or not, it’s proper rest.
Exercise is good for the body, of course, but more isn’t always better. Intense, daily workouts can lead to symptoms of overtraining, which include decreased performance, insomnia, lack of energy and more. Rest days are a key component of a well-balanced exercise program, not an excuse to be lazy.
Exercise, strength training especially, creates microscopic tears in your muscle tissue. Rest days give that tissue time to repair and rebuild. Tissue becomes stronger during this rebuilding process, which is how you see gains in strength. Without rest, muscle tissue continues to break down and does not rebuild as effectively.
What Does “Rest” Really Mean?
Does taking a rest day mean you should sit at home noshing on bonbons like a couch potato? Find ways to incorporate movement into your rest days by taking the stairs, walking around the shops and doing other daily activities.
If a day without exercise just isn’t for you, consider taking an active recovery day. Light activity (also known as active recovery) keeps the blood flowing, which helps with muscle tissue repair and reduces muscle soreness. Instead of running several miles seven days in a row, try spending a day taking a walk, enjoying a relaxing yoga routine or taking a leisurely bike ride. Active recovery also helps you stay consistent in a regular routine, making you less likely to allow one day off to lead to another, then another.
Jon Morgan is a fitness expert and transformation specialist from Eastbourne ( East Sussex, UK ). Having worked with professional athletes and everyday people Jon uses his innovative techniques, education...