Making progress sometimes means taking a rest day from your workout plan. It is an essential part of any exercise program. A rest day is a day in which a person takes a break from their regular workout routine. A rest day helps your body to recover both mentally and physically, giving your body a chance to repair and recover, and help to prevent injury.
Plan to take regular rest days and learn to recognise when you are fatigued. If you are a beginner this can be difficult to identify, plan rest days every 3-4 days initially or even more often as needed. There is a saying “listen to your body” which is self explanatory and refers to identifying changes in your physical or mental health, and taking action.
Indicators You Need a Rest Day
- persistent muscle pain or soreness
- inability to complete a workout routine
- continued feelings of sluggishness following a workout
- binge eating or craving comfort foods
- increased incidence of injury or illness
- changes in mood or behaviour, such as
- mood swings
- prioritising fitness over everything else
- reduced beneficial effects of the workout, such as a decreasing rate of fat loss or muscle gain
- increased heart rate
If you are being guided by a personal trainer you will have an individual plan modified to your specific needs which will be factored into your workout program. When you are following your own program it is important to be aware of the need for rest days and plan these as you need them.
What to do on Your Rest Day
A rest day is total relaxation. Modify your activities around your job and other responsibilities.
Take the opportunity to Practice Self Care. Select your favourite activities and treat yourself. Remember to acknowledge what you have accomplished and then continue with your program when you are energised.
What are the Health Benefits of a Rest Day
The health benefits of rest days include:
- Alleviating muscle pain and soreness: During rest days, the body has a chance to remove excess lactate from the muscles. This helps to alleviate the muscle pain and soreness you are suffering from your exercising.
- Repairing and building muscles: Exercise creates microscopic tears in muscle tissue. During rest days, cells called fibroblasts repair and build up the muscle tissue.
- Replenishing the body’s energy stores: Glycogen is a form of energy stored in muscles. Exercise depletes glycogen levels, which leads to muscle fatigue and soreness. Rest days allow the muscles to replenish their glycogen stores, thereby reducing muscle fatigue and preparing the muscles for their next workout.
- Preventing injury: Overexercising puts repetitive stress on muscles, tendons and ligaments therefore increasing the risk of injury. If you are a newcomer this is really important to be aware of because your body is not used to exercising and it is a fact that as we age if we injure ourselves we are slower to heal. It is a challenge to hear of people who start with great intentions and go to hard and end up with an injury.
- Allowing the mind to rest: Overexercising can tire the mind as well as the body. Tiredness can lead to poor decision making during a workout routine, which increases the risk of injury. Overexercising can also decreased motivation because feeling tired is one of the most common causes of lack of motivation and loss of interest in creating a healthy lifestyle.