If fitness is part of your lifestyle – and it should be – you probably spend time thinking about workouts, calories in and out, strength training and cardio. But there’s another important element that doesn’t get nearly as much attention, even though it can have a huge impact on your health. Here are five reasons rest days matter in fitness.
Rest Days Reduce Risk of Injury
When we rest, we give our muscles and joints the time they need to recover. And by building in appropriate rest days to our fitness schedule, we can also prevent overuse, which is a recipe for injury.
Rest Periods are When the Magic Happens
We don’t get stronger in the gym – we get stronger after all the hard work we put in at the gym. It’s during the rest period that those torn muscle repairs can begin the process of rebuilding and strengthening. It’s for this reason that you don’t train the same muscle group two days in a row, but rather stagger the days you train specific body parts. It can be hard to take time off from the gym, especially when you hit your stride, but without rest days, you won’t benefit from all that effort. Listen to your body and give it the time it needs to rest.
Rest Days Improve Sleep
If you notice that it’s difficult to get a full night’s sleep – and other distractions aren’t to blame – it could be overtraining keeping you up all night. Too much exercise can induce a near constant state of alertness, and your resting heart rate may be a sign that this is the case. An elevated heart rate – something higher than what’s normal for you – can be an indication of stress on the body. A healthy body will typically respond positively to a new stress in your training program, like upping your weights, for example. But if you’re overtraining, your body may respond to this new stimulus negatively, leaving you overly sore, fatigued and irritable. Rest days can help your body reset enough to get the kind of high-quality sleep you need to be functioning at your best.
Rest Days Keep the Immune System Humming
Our immune system works overtime when we’re working hard, and those rest days give it the time it needs to repair muscles and joints. When we skip rest days, our immune system doesn’t get the break it may need to do everything it needs to do, putting you at risk for illness and injury.
Taking proper rest days to complement your fitness program is a smart, critical move for your overall health. Plus, there’s a psychological advantage in that it ignites a desire to move again, helping you avoid mental burnout. Rest is important, so don’t skip those days off. And if you need help setting up a fitness program that includes proper rest days, we’re happy to help.