Rest Is Good for the Body

Taking time to rest is so important to meeting your fitness goals.  When you take time to rest, you are allowing your body to repair itself.  You see, when you work out, you actually tear and break down the muscle (this is why you may feel sore a day or two after you workout. ) But when you rest, you are giving your muscles a chance to heal and grow stronger.

It is only through rest that your body can make the repairs it needs to become stronger, fitter, and more powerful.

This is why it is so important to not work the same body parts 2 days in a row (and why you allow your body to rest completely for one to two days a week. ) Without enough rest, not only will you not achieve the positive changes you desire, but you’ll be setting yourself up for negative ones, including injury, illness and fatigue.

A little side note about soreness 

Now a certain amount of muscle soreness is to be expected when new to any exercise, performing a different type of exercise you’re used to, or when increasing the difficulty.  That pain calls for resting and stretching and If the pain lasts for more than a couple of days, then rest that body part a little longer (and maybe don’t push it so hard next time).

However, if you are feeling pain in your joints, not good!  This means you are doing too much, maybe too often, using too much weight, or doing an exercise wrong – and possibly not allowing yourself the rest needed.  So, rest even longer, check with your doctor to make sure you haven’t seriously injured yourself, and if necessary, apply the RICE method:

  • R = REST
  • I = ICE: Ice the swollen/sore area 20 mins on and 20 mins off
  • C = COMPRESSION: Wrapping the injured area in an ace bandage or rock tape will help soothe the pain, reduce swelling, and remind you to take it easy!
  • E = ELEVATION: Use a footstool, ottoman, or chair to keep the area elevated helps reduce the blood flow to the injury and will keep it from swelling. 

Then when you are able to return to your training, make sure your exercise form is correct and you are using the proper amount of weight. Also, look for alternative exercises you can do that utilize the same muscles but don’t add pressure to the injured joints. 

TIP:  “over-use injuries”  are one reason why you want to take time to rest and also regularly include a variety of exercises.  Long-term repetitive motion (doing the same thing over-and-over-and-over again), is not only boring, but can cause serious injury.  So, make sure you are adding in variety to both your cardio workouts and your strength training. “Same thing different day,”  just ain’t good.

Rest Is also Good for the Mind

Getting adequate rest not only helps your body repair from exercise, but it improves your mind-set about exercise as well. Taking a day or two off helps to keep you from getting mentally burned-out or bored.  By taking a day off from the gym and doing some other activity that is fun and or just plain relaxing, you can actually increase your chances of sticking to your workouts and you’ll look forward to getting back to the gym.

So take some time off and chill.

Active Rest

Now resting doesn’t mean you have to sit on the couch all day and veg in front of the TV (although some days like that are good, too). So, if you want to still be active on your “Rest Days,” then do so (unless of course your injured).  But choose something that has nothing to do with your regular exercise routine. Go for a leisurely hike and have a picnic, pass the football with the kids, take a family bike ride around the neighborhood. How about a long, gentle swim or yoga class?

Rest days don’t have to be boring, but are great days to do something slow, enjoyable and uncomplicated – all while giving our body the rest it needs to start again.

Here are some great activities you can do on your rest day. Just stick to the low to moderate activities. 

Now, go and get some rest. Your body (and mind) will love you for it!

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