The Importance of Rest and Recovery After Exercise
Some athletes live by the motto “no days off” – and they shouldn’t. Rest days are just as big a part of the fitness equation as the actual workout.
Rest days shouldn’t be equated with lack of progress – but rather a catalyst of progress. Without recovery, all types of problems detrimental to your health can arise. Your body is not as invincible as you think. By forcing too many results much too often, you may actually be pulling yourself away from the fitness goals you’ve been trying so hard to stay on top of.
It’s easy to feel guilty on rest days when you’re bombarded with pictures and videos online of everyone hitting the gym – but the reality is, nobody’s going to glorify their rest day. However, rest days should be glorified.
Here are just some of the things they can protect your body and health from:
It turns out, over-exercise should be avoided just as much as exercising too little. This sickness affects your muscles, hormones, and brain. At first, this may seem like an average day when you’re feeling blue – lethargy, headaches, soreness, etc. But if this is all piled up on emotional changes, severe pain, insomnia, and sickness – chances are, you’re overworking yourself. Unlike most things, the solution is rest. Taking a physical (and mental) break from exercise for a few days at a time will help you, not hurt you. If you want to avoid overtraining syndrome, (which basically feels like the flu on steroids), dedicate more days to rest and/or active recovery.
It’s established that moderate exercise routines benefit your heart, bones, and more. But extreme exercise habits have the opposite effect on your immune system. Dr. Mark Jenkins of Rice University noted in a report that “two-thirds of [ultramarathon] participants developed upper respiratory tract infections shortly after.” This is because, after a single-session excessive workout, let alone consecutive ones, your body releases cortisol and adrenaline – which temporarily hinder your immune system. That’s where rest days come in yet again to save the day – your immune system needs time to recover after you exercise. That doesn’t mean lounging all day, every day will flex your immune systems’ muscles – it just means to take the frequency and intensity down a notch once in a while. In fact – regular, moderate, exercise actually boosts your immune system.
Overusing your muscles can plague them with strain and pain. Your muscle tissues actually tear apart when you exercise – but the good news is, they grow back bigger and better. However, tissue can’t repair itself if it’s being exhausted day after day. “When tissues break down faster than it can rebuild, injuries can occur,” according to Summit Medical Group. This is why rest days are a necessity – not just a guideline. Soreness and pain could be indicators that if you may be about to push your body over the edge – leading to an injury.
What to do on rest days
Everybody’s ideal rest day is different. If you want to spend it binge-watching Netflix (while getting up once in a while), go for it. But if you want to stay fairly active on a rest day, you definitely can (as long as it’s not as intense as your normal workout).
Here are some activity ideas for your next active rest day:
- Foam rolling
Rest days are a necessity – and mastering the scheduling of them could be tricky. That’s why Thrive Fitness’ personal trainers are here to customize your workout plan. Contact us here today or email firstname.lastname@example.org.