Once you’ve caught the fitness bug, taking a day off can seem harder than getting out of bed to workout early in the morning.
But the reality is, rest days are vital if you want to remain injury free and get the best results from your training. Not convinced? Think about how you feel when you have a terrible night’s sleep. Your reaction speed slows down, your mind gets foggy, you start feeling grumpy and if you have had a couple of night’s bad sleep, it can start to impact on your overall health and your immune system.
And while you might think you’re one step closer to achieving those fitness goals if you head to the gym or hit the pavement on a Sunday, overtraining can have similar consequences on your body. Because you’re not giving your body adequate time to recover, you might experience muscle soreness and a decrease in energy – which means your time spent exercising won’t be as valuable as it would be had you taken that rest day. Overtrain for extended periods and it could take a toll on your immune system and your sleeping habits.
What counts as rest and how often should I be doing it?
According to fitness experts, how often you rest and what counts as rest really depends on your fitness level and the type of exercise you are doing. If you’re new to an exercise routine, you’re already more likely to feel the impact of a workout on your body, so working out for two days and resting the third is recommended. Those who are somewhat experienced with a fitness programme should consider working out for four days and resting for the fifth days. If you’re experienced and injury-free, try taking a rest day once a week.
How active – or inactive – your rest day is depends on you the level of activity you have been doing throughout the week. If you’ve been doing light or moderate exercise, your rest day could be more active. Try a yoga class or joining a sports team. Those who have been training at a higher intensity should opt for a relatively inactive day. Take a casual, low-intensity stroll to get some fresh air.
Remember, a day off every now will do wonders for your progress.