Exercise is good for the body, of course, but more isn’t always better. Intense, daily workouts can lead to symptoms of
Exercise, and strength
What Does "Rest" Really Mean?
Does taking a rest day mean you should sit at home noshing on bonbons like a couch potato? Find ways to incorporate movement into your rest days by taking the stairs, walking around the grocery store and doing other daily activities.
If a day without exercise just isn’t for you, consider taking an active recovery day. Light activity (also known as active recovery) keeps the blood flowing, which helps with muscle tissue repair and reduces muscle soreness. Instead of running several miles seven days in a row, try spending a day taking a walk, enjoying a relaxing yoga routine or taking a leisurely bike ride. Active recovery also helps you stay consistent in a regular routine, making you less likely to allow one day off to lead to another, then another.
How Much Do You Need?
It’s important to balance getting enough rest with not relaxing so much that you start to see a loss of strength or endurance. The number of rest days you need each week (and exactly what those days look like) varies depending on a number of factors, including:
- Age. As we get older, we tend to need more time to recover in between workouts.
- Intensity of workouts. If you’re doing lots of vigorous workouts (like HIIT) or you’re training for a marathon, you’ll likely need more rest days than someone who does mostly moderate-intensity activity.
- How long you’ve been a regular exerciser. Someone who’s been exercising for years becomes very familiar with their body. They know how much they can push themselves and when it’s time for a break. New exercisers often ignore the warning signs, assuming that exercise is going to be exhausting and needs to be done daily in order for it to be effective. That’s one more reason rest days are even more important if you’re new to regular activity.
Rest Versus Recovery
What is the difference between rest and recovery? Recovery is everything that happens between the end of one workout and the beginning of another. Rest is an important part of the recovery process, but keep in mind that there are other factors—including adequate sleep and proper post-workout hydration and nutrition—that also help speed up recovery so you’re ready for the next workout.
Remember: Rest days are not a sign of laziness. They are a sign that you are listening to your body and giving yourself the physical and mental break it needs. You’ll find that incorporating regular rest days into your routine will leave you with more energy to give it your all on your tough workout days.