In the past few years I have been hard on myself and my body. I have the philosophy that I need to sweat every damn day and sometimes twice a day otherwise I have “failed”. This is completely wrong and I have decided to make a conscious change to start to allow a rest day or two during the week.
Our bodies need time to recover. From theActiveTimes.com, Crystal Reeves, also a NASM certified master trainer and a co-owner of MadSweat, states “When you perform excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest and recovery you may experience some harmful side effects including decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood swings.”
Part of my “problem” is that I love being active and it feels good to sweat every day. It fuels my mind and keeps me from sitting on my couch when I could otherwise be cranking up the tunes and feeling that heart rate rise. But what does an actual rest day mean? Does it mean I have to sit on my couch all day? Can I still get out there and move a little bit? The short answer is yes or yes!
There are many athletes that take on the philosophy that a rest day is a rest day so therefore I should not be active and I should not move. For others, its a matter of which muscles you exert or how much you bring your heart rate up. For me I consider a rest day a day of maybe a long walk and light yoga. Today, for example I will go to a pilates reformer class, which I know will not raise my heart rate and just stretch me out, and a sauna session – see how I get my sweat in there anyway?
The one thing everyone needs to know is that if you have sore muscles, you need to let them recover. They are sore because you worked them hard but to see them get the gains (or losses) you want, you need to let them repair.
If you are worried that taking a rest day will cause the scale to go up it won’t unless you binge or go crazy. This is something I worry about but typically see the opposite happen. I take a night off for happy hour and I relax a bit, I get on the scale the next day worried that it will have derailed my progress but I usually find that the scale still moved in the direction I wanted or stayed the same. I think how can this be?? Its because my body got to recover and relax and yes, I wasn’t doing keg stands or drinking pitchers of beer on my own. I mindfully rested and indulged.
We need those breaks. While I worried that oh no I didn’t sweat today, I forget maybe I still walked 15000 steps because I ran so many errands or I danced at the bar with my friends or ate less because I knew I wasn’t working out that day. We deserve the break and our body thanks us for it when we give it to it.
Here are some signs I thought were good indicators you need to give your body a rest day from fitnessblender.com:
- Loss of appetite
- Severe fatigue
- Slower healing & longer recovery times
- Changes in mood and ability to focus or concentrate
- Amenorrhea – Missed or very irregular periods
- Aches & pains – particularly of the joints
- Depressed immune system – increased chance of catching colds and other infections
- Changes in performance – if you find yourself moving slower, lifting less than you’re normally able to, having to take more rest breaks and generally not push yourself as hard as you normally do, you could be overtraining
These are all good signs when paired with the some of the other signs mentioned above. So what will you do with that extra hour or two of free time on your rest day? Oh let me start a list! haha I kid but seriously – I need to laundry due to all the workout clothes I go through in the week! Enjoy your day and lets hit it tomorrow!
Sources on info: Fitnessblender.com and theActivetimes.com