Many people talk about the motivation needed to start working out, consistency to keep going, and determination to achieve results. But no one really stresses the importance of rest days. Sure, once we all start working out, it’s easy to develop a mindset that makes you want to keep doing it consistently every day. While it’s great that you’ve found the drive to keep going, it’s important to remember that going hard each day isn’t exactly the best and only way to achieve the results you’re going for. 

Rest days give way to a number of things to take place, for your body to recover and repair itself. They’re just as important as your work out and workout regimens are said to be successful when you give yourself some time to rest. Skipping rest days can result in unwanted injuries, over-training syndrome and even burnout which brings about a couple of problems like decreased performance, fatigue and may even cause hormonal imbalances and poor sleeping patterns which affects the overall mood. 

An ideal rest day looks different for everyone, depending on a bunch of different factors. Remember that rest days don’t mean you’re being unproductive, but a lot of rest days are dependent on your lifestyle outside of exercise. Here are a few reasons why rest days are just as important as the days when you exercise

1. Allows recovery 

Exercising actually creates microscopic tears in muscle tissues but it is these rest days that allow body cells called fibroblasts repair them. This results in a stronger and renewed muscle and tissues. Different factors like the kind of training you do, how experienced you are, the volume of training you do per week and even your age can all affect how much recovery you would really need. 

The recommended amount of exercise per week for the average adult is at 150 minutes per week, so 30 to 60 minutes doing moderate exercise or training harder 20 to 60 minutes per week. This requires at least 48 hours for recovery per session. 

Muscles also store carbohydrates by glycogen, which in turn is used to fuel your workout. Rest periods gives your body ample time to replenish this lost energy before the next time you work out.

2. Prevents fatigue

Over-training syndrome sends our muscles into overdrive and depletes the muscles’ glycogen levels, which can result in our muscles being more sore than usual. Even when one isn’t working out or doing anything physical, glycogen levels still need to refill. 

3. Reduces risk of injury

Injuries can happen when your muscles aren’t fully healed yet, which can cause you to work with a bad form, be unable to fully exert the motion needed for a certain exercise, or even drop a weight. It’s really important to figure out which muscles have been strained also, to be able to determine which muscles need to heal and maybe even need a change in form while working the muscle. 

4. Improves performance

Feeling rejuvenated helps boost your overall motivation to do your workout. Exercise generally produces energy and mood-boosting hormones likes adrenaline and cortisol, however over-exercising can also overproduce these hormones. Getting ample sleep and rest helps put these hormones in check. 

Rest days are also different for various types of training.

Light cardio – Does not necessarily require rest days as this consists of activities such as leisurely walks or your everyday routine, which is considered safe enough to do daily. 

Moderate/vigorous cardio – This requires a couple of active rest days. It’s recommended to take a rest day every three to five days. These rest days can include doing lighter workouts like stretching. 

Running – A more intense form of cardio that may need more rest days, especially when training for a vigorous test of agility and speed, like marathons, triathlons. 

Bodybuilding – Need alternating rest days between different muscle groups so as not to strain them. 

Weight loss – Rest allows for more calories to be burned at rest and helps muscles rebuild themselves. When feeling well-rested, it is easier to stick to the routine.

Rest days may also consist of adding lighter workouts, low-impact cardio like just taking a walk outside, to riding a bike, yoga is also another alternative to still get into a fitness routine to rest as it has been proven to help with body awareness and mindfulness as well as the correct breathing and flexibility. Incorporating this into your routine helps you to stay active but still give way for your muscles to heal.

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