The importance of rest days
Whilst I am a massive advocate for pushing our bodies to it’s limits, it is equally as important to give our bodies rest days. A fitness regime is not complete without rest days, they are just as important as the training days. Taking regular rest days allows our bodies to recover and repair, both being a critical part of progress, regardless of your fitness levels or sport. You have heard of ‘never skip leg day’ well…never skip a rest day either! If you are wondering why these so called rest days are so important, here are the reasons why;
Reduces risk of injury! I have put this one first because, for me, it is the most important reason to rest and allow that recovery time for our bodies, also…. Having an injury when you are an active person is probably one of the single most frustrating things!! So… rest to avoid risk of injury! When our bodies are fatigued, we are more likely to fall away from good form. Overtraining also exposes our muscles to repetitive stress and strain, which then increases the risk of overuse injuries, forcing you to take a longer period of time off exercise…. Totally counterproductive in my opinion, so schedule at least 2 rest days into your training schedule.
Improves performance. When you don’t get enough rest, your body may feel heavy and tired, which in turn will have an impact on performance. For example, if you are a runner and you have neglected the rest days, you may find your legs get very heavy, very quickly and you may feel less motivated to keep putting one foot in front of the other. With little rest you may experience reduced endurance, slow reaction times and poor agility.
Allows time for recovery. Rest is essential for muscle growth, so if you think you need to be beasting your body daily to build muscle, you may be slightly wrong. Your body needs those rest days to re-build and repair the muscles. Exercise creates microscopic tears in your muscle tissue, but during rest, cells called fibroblasts repair it. This helps the tissue heal and grow, resulting in stronger muscles. Not only that, rest days allow your body to replenish it’s Glycogen stores (energy stores)
Signs you may need a rest day;
So how do we do rest days right….
Well, a rest day doesn’t mean sitting on the sofa all day and doing nothing! You can still get out for a walk, do some gentle stretching or even join a yoga class. I am a big believer in gentle movement, not only for your body but for your mind too. If the thought of not exercising worries you because you heavily rely on it for your mental health (many of us do!) then why not get out in nature and get your step count up.
Alternatively, you can join my online stretch class on a Monday lunch time at 12:15 for a full body 15 minute stretch session that you can do anywhere, whether you are in an office or working from home.