Just as movement and proper nutrition are important, the importance of taking a rest day is essential. Rest doesn’t just include the time one spends sleeping or not working out. It means taking a full day off to hydrate, eat properly and take a short break, especially when doing heavy workouts. A rest day should include sleep, relaxation and proper fuel so that when the rest day is over the body is ready to resume fitness activity!
If a proper rest day isn’t taken, fitness can be viewed as a chore when the body is constantly sore. Muscle soreness occurs when there is stress on the muscles that the muscles are not used to. Remaining lactic acid in the muscles after heavy exercise without properly hydrating during or stretching after a workout causes soreness and if your muscles are sore all the time, it makes working out a miserable experience.
Relaxation and sleep are great “activities” on a rest day. Sleep is when the body repairs itself: muscles can heal and grow, and inflammation and muscle soreness can subside during this time. Fitness and exercise can also have a great effect on sleep, so they actually compliment each other! Plus, relaxation helps quiet the mind which can aid in muscle recovery.
Taking a rest day to do absolutely nothing is perfectly acceptable. I absolutely do this and feel so much better resuming workouts the next day! Going for a walk or doing a gentle yoga session are also ways to help the body recuperate on a rest day. Most who exercise regularly feel guilty taking a rest day, even though it is incredibly beneficial. If you feel you have to move, do it but don’t feel guilty if you don’t!
Proper fuel and hydration are also important on a rest day because they help the body recover from the stress of working out. Hydration helps flush out any residual muscle soreness and also helps the muscles repair themselves. If you are dehydrated, muscle repair is slower and the muscles stay sore. Drinking plenty of water will help keep the joints and muscles well lubricated while speeding up recovery time! Eating as you would on a training day also helps continually fuel the body while in recovery. Just don’t skip meals – that doesn’t benefit anyone!
The importance of taking a rest day is clear: it helps repair and refuel the body, and relaxes the mind! How do you spend your rest day? Leave a comment below!