It is not uncommon to fear rest days once you begin to master your fitness routine, many of us initially worry that taking a day or two off will sabotage our success. But in reality, the opposite is true. If you’re not giving your body a break, your body will eventually break; and that’s in no one’s best interest. Here’s what you need to know about this important component of the fitness equation:
The Regeneration Process
Resting is equally as important as working out because it is integral in the process of building muscles and endurance. The act of strenuous physical exercise breaks down your body tissues. In some cases, like resistance training, workouts will cause microscopic tears in your muscles. Building your muscles is dependent on your body’s ability to repair those tears. When this happens, the tissues grow back stronger than before, enabling your strength to increase. This process, called the regeneration process, requires sufficient water, food, supplements, and rest. Skipping this means that you are just breaking down your body tissues constantly and effectively weakening yourself; the opposite of what you are trying to achieve!
An Overactive Immune System
When you work out, your immune system kicks into overdrive in order to tend to those tears and strains. But without a break, your system doesn’t have the chance to catch up and you run a greater risk of injury. Tight muscles and tendons can cause painful symptoms like bone spurs and shin splints. In order to offset the pain, our immune systems flood these areas with fluid in an attempt to cushion them. Unfortunately, this fluid retention compromises the ability of your joints to move normally, possibly causing more injury.
What does a good rest day look like?
All this doesn’t mean you have a free pass to sit on the couch for eight hours and devour a tub of icecream. Rest days will look very different depending on the type of athlete you are. For example, bodybuilders could take a day off of lifting and do cardio instead. The important thing to remember is not to overwork certain muscle groups. If you insist on working out every day, switch up your routine to target different areas or offset your regular run with a one hour yoga class. When planning your rest days, also be mindful that if you aren’t going to be expending as many calories, you may not need to be eating as much.
Here at Vitality Fitness, we know you can’t be here at boot camp all the time, so we want to ensure that you’re taking care of yourself while you’re away! That’s why it’s important that whether you’re training for the Olympics or just shedding your freshmen 15, make sure that your fitness regime incorporates rest days.