Creating a fit and healthy lifestyle can sometimes feel like it’s all or nothing. We’re in the mindset that in order to achieve results, we must push ourselves every day or we won’t see change. While it’s true pushing yourself and challenging your body will force it to adapt the harder, faster, more approach is not the always the recipe for success. In order to achieve the changes you’re after, rest and recovery is absolutely necessary.
Essential Additions to Your Fitness Routine
By allowing yourself one or two rest days a week, you give your body the time and ability to repair muscles, joints, and ligaments. This is especially important if you do a lot of high-impact training. Not taking any rest days can result in overtraining, leading to injury, fatigue, and decreased immunity. The amount of rest time differs from person to person and varies based on the intensity of your exercise. If you do vigorous workouts that involve a lot of strength training, it may be best to allow two or three days a week of rest in order for your muscles to repair and strengthen. If you’re more of a light or moderate exercise-er, one day a week should be sufficient.
Great! Mandatory couch time? Not quite. It’s important to realize that a rest day isn’t an excuse to not move at all. A rest day might be an opportunity to try a different form of exercise, such as a yoga class or Pilates reformers. If you mainly focus on strength training, maybe take a spin class. It might be as simple as walking to meet your friends for coffee opposed to driving or taking public transportation. Some form of movement is good, just make sure it feels good for your body.
You can also speed up your recovery time by making some changes in your post-workout habits. If you’re sore, try foam rolling, assisted stretching, or massage in order to release knots, reduce stiffness, and encourage muscle repair. Getting a good night’s sleep, drinking a lot of water, and consuming protein after your workout can also help reduce soreness.
Rest days are an important and often overlooked part of a healthy fitness routine. Listen to your body and don’t be afraid to take a day off when you need to. You’ll come back stronger and more ready to work than before!