Everyone is always active and exercises regularly for optimal health. However, whether you’re training for a professional sport or just feeling motivated to stay fit, like with anything else, more isn’t always necessarily better. Rest days are just as essential as exercising, and you can’t achieve successful fitness regimes without rest days. When you’re on your rest day or days from strenuous workouts, your body will also appreciate a relaxing massage in your city or other forms of physical therapy. The massage sessions can start at a refreshing sauna, scrub, body wrap, or a long, luxurious soak in special baths. These treatments not only help your body recuperate but also relaxes you and enhances your overall well-being. Besides relieving muscle aches and soreness, the following are more benefits of taking regular breaks between workouts.
Prevents Muscle Fatigue
After relieving muscle aches and soreness, taking regular breaks can prevent future muscle fatigues. Keep in mind that exercising can deplete your muscles’ glycogen levels, and if this doesn’t get replaced, you’ll experience severe muscle fatigue. So, get adequate rest to prevent fatigue and let your glycogen storage build up again.
Provides More Time for Recovery Rest days aren’t about being lazy and munching on junk food. It’s during this time that the beneficial effects of your workouts take place, promoting muscle growth. Exercising creates small tears in your muscle tissue and when you rest, cells, namely fibroblasts, repair them. These help your tissues to heal and grow, resulting in stronger muscles.
Risks Resting in between exercises is crucial in ensuring your safety during exercising. When your body gets overworked, you’re more likely to fall out of form, drop weights, or missteps—leading to injuries. Additionally, overtraining exposes your muscles to repetitive stress and strains, increasing your risk of developing overuse injuries, forcing you to take even more rest days initially.
It Helps You Mentally Relax
Pushing through strenuous workout sessions not only requires physical fitness, but it also asks for mental toughness and stamina, meaning physical exertion isn’t only hard on your body, it can fatigue your brain too. Spending a day or two away from your hardcore training routine gives you a much-needed psychological break from exercising, helping your mind relax and recover alongside your body.
Participating in moderate- to high-intensity exercises relies heavily on your body’s glycolysis energy pathway, using carbohydrates to fuel your muscles’ activities. Feeling tired or sluggish after an intense workout session may mean your glycogen levels are depleted. When your glucose becomes too low, your body may start catabolizing protein as fuel instead of using it to repair muscle tissues, making you feel fatigued. Taking a rest can help your body replace the lost energy in your muscle cells, allowing you to give it all for the next session.
When you don’t acquire enough rest, it can be challenging to go on with your routines, let alone challenge yourself in working out. For instance, you may be less motivated to do an extra mile while on a jog. Even when you push yourself, overtraining may decrease your overall performance, reducing endurance and slowing down your reaction times. Meanwhile, rest provides the opposite effect, increasing energy and preventing fatigue—preparing your body for consistently efficient workout sessions.
Supports Healthy Sleep
Although regularly exercising can enhance your sleep, taking rest days can also be helpful. Physical activities increase the production of energy-boosting hormones, such as cortisol and adrenaline. However, continually exercising may overproduce these hormones, leaving you having a hard time getting good-quality sleep, worsening fatigue, and exhaustion. Getting enough rest can help you get better sleep by letting these hormones return to their balanced state.
What to Do During Rest Days
Now that you know the importance of rest days, here’s what you need to do during your rest days.
Stock up on Protein and Carbohydrates
During your rest days, you need to eat enough protein and carbohydrates. Eating protein supports muscle repairs happening during your rests while complex carbs restore your glycogen levels.
When resting, just like when you work out, you need to drink water—lots of it. Staying hydrated can prevent muscle cramps while delivering nutrients throughout your body.
Do Low-Impact Workouts
Although you’re technically on a rest day, if you’re looking to do something, low-impact exercises are acceptable, helping you stay active without overstressing your body. These include walking, biking, dancing, and kayaking, When the stress becomes too much for your body to handle, it can and will result in overuse injuries, ranging from stress fractures, muscle strains, and joint pain. That’s why you must add rests in-between your workouts, especially when participating in high-intensity exercises—and the tips mentioned can help you make the most out of your rest days without compromising everything you’ve worked so hard for.