What would you say if I told you that resting is training? You might be skeptical. A day or two per week that I do nothing? How can that help me get in shape?
Your body needs rest in order to rebuild and get stronger, and here’s why:
When you stress the body through physical activity, you’re basically breaking yourself a little bit. During a hard effort, your muscles suffer thousands of micro-injuries. Then, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers, resulting in muscle growth.
BUT, this process can only occur when the muscle is not in a stressed state (read: RESTING).
WHY SHOULD I TAKE REST DAYS?
-Resting helps prevent injury, because it decreases the risk of overtraining.
-Resting helps you sleep better. If you are overtraining, your body is in a constant state of restlessness, which affects your sleep. 1-2 rest days per week help you maintain a normal sleep schedule. (And coincidentally, sleep is when a lot of your body’s repairing and rebuilding take place!)
-Resting helps you stay motivated and engaged with exercise. Mixing in your rest days helps prevent mental burnout and fatigue – which not only helps you stay mentally sharp, but also allows you to enjoy your workouts!
It’s important to remember that rest days don’t have to mean laying on the couch doing nothing (but if it’s a rainy Sunday and you really just want to veg out – we’re totally on board with that life decision.) An active rest day could include going for a walk, doing some yoga, a foam rolling session – activities that raise your heart rate but only slightly. If you’ve been pushing hard, then a less active rest day might be more beneficial. Either way, these days are good for not only your body but also your mind.
Changing your mindset to feel good about rest is challenging once you get going in a workout program – you just want to go, go, go all the time! But taking adequate time to allow your body to rest and repair is an important component of lifelong fitness.