5 Reasons Not to Skip Rest Day

8 Oct

Happy Tuesday everyone!  I’m excited to announce that things are changing a little bit around here. In addition to a little in-the-works website remodel, you’ll have the pleasure of being introduced to 5 new regular LWN writers over the next couple of weeks (beginning tomorrow!)  Each of them have an impressive health/fitness background and I’m beyond thrilled that they’re going to share their own tips + tricks!!

So I’ve been a little busier than usual – in a good way. Work has been popping, my social obligations have felt non-stop, I started training for another half marathon, and I’ve been testing what feels like dozens of recipes.  Standard adult busyness.

Yesterday I took a forced day off from exercise. It’s not that I couldn’t have found 45 minutes in my day, but mentally and physically I needed it. So I watched Homeland from the couch instead of CNN from the treadmill.

I must admit, I struggle with rest days. Not because I have a paranoid fear that taking a day off from exercise will somehow undo all the work I’ve done or that I’ll mysteriously gain 10 pounds overnight, but because I really just love to sweat. I crave the endorphin rush, the way it helps me focus and de-stress, and how everything feels so much better after a long run.  It’s my own little source of free therapy.

I digress. Bottom line, I forced myself to take a rest day. Why? Because they’re super, super important.  The amount of rest and reason for needing it vary a bit depending on what kind of workout you do and why- but here’s a general overview in layman’s terms (BTW -what exactly is a layman, anybody??).

rest day

1. Get toned. Our bodies require time to recuperate after exercise. When we do any kind of work with weight, be it from body weight to resistance to lifting, we cause little tears in our muscles. Muscle is then built (read: your ass gets toned) when those tears heal. But unless you give your muscles a rest, you’re really being counterproductive to the cause at hand because they never have time to recover and well, you’re basically just wasting your time.

2. Stay injury free. Cardio bunnies, you might be thinking, “well I don’t do weights, I don’t need a rest day.”  Welp, I’ve got news for ya: there is an actual science behind this, but simply put, refusing to take a day off can (and will probably) lead to an injury, or worsen existing injuries. Truth.

3. Overcome adaptation. Ahh, fancy words. The more we exercise, the more our bodies adapt and become efficient. What does that mean? It means that it takes a harder workout to continue to see progress and we have to step it up. The more intensity and effort you put into your workout, the more important rest days become.

4. Improve + maintain performance This goes hand and hand with the above. By not giving your body adequate rest after intense workouts, there’s a very good chance you’ll actually start to see a decline in performance. It’s called overtraining. I actually encountered this during my last half marathon training- I wasn’t taking the rest day outlined in my plan and was even doubling up workouts many days, but I couldn’t figure out why I was slowing down and having a harder time with the mileage. Duh. As soon as I started forcing myself to rest once a week, I saw a notable improvement.

5. Mentally recharge  A day off forces us to refocus, recharge, and keeps us from burning out. We take days off from work, our social lives, and even our families once in a while – why wouldn’t we do the same when it comes to exercise?

So enough with the guilt every time you decide to couch it out instead of hitting the pavement. Not only is it totally ok, it’s also totally necessary: by not taking a day off, you’re actually doing yourself a disservice. Walk your dog, take a pretty hike – you don’t have to be totally sedentary, but you’ll reap the benefits of your work if you can allow yourself some time to recover.




One Response to “5 Reasons Not to Skip Rest Day”

  1. catholicyouthlife October 24, 2013 at 10:02 pm #

    Fun fact: Layman comes from the Catholic church. Ordained men and religious men and women (brothers and sisters in orders, as well as nuns) are generally grouped as “religious” and those who are living in the world are called “lay faithful” or, the laymen. This doesn’t however mean that lay people can’t be religious, which is often a source of confusion.

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