Why rest days are a good move
Are you working out harder than ever to shift those last few pounds? Have you made a pact with yourself to drop a dress size for an event in 2 weeks’ time? Are you beginning to feel tired, both mentally and physically?
It’s no surprise. Whilst working out is important for your health, working out without any days off can have the opposite effect.
Taking some time off every week is no bad thing. In fact, studies show that if you push yourself each and every day, your body can start to behave very strangely which may impact on losing the last few pounds, or building muscle mass.
Here’s what we mean …
1. Your muscles need time to repair themselves.
When you workout – whether it be with weights, playing tennis or running – the muscles you use can start to wear and quite literally tear. These tiny tears need time to repair themselves in order to grow stronger. The only way to repair these tears is to stop using those muscles. To relax. Stop working out. Enjoy a rest day (or two).
2. You stop losing weight.
Yes, you read it correctly. If you over-exercise your body can stop losing the weight that you so desperately want to lose. It does this to protect itself, which is actually very clever – if slightly frustrating for those of us who think the best way to lose weight, and remain healthy, is through exercise.
Prevent this from happening by taking enough rest days each week and ensure your workout routines are varied. Take part in a HIIT class, try your local spinning class, go for a run, play tennis. Just mix it up, take some rest and continue seeing those weightloss results.
3. You’ll reach a mid-afternoon slump … regularly.
If you’re lucky enough to work from home, a mid-afternoon slump might not sound like such a negative result of not taking any rest days, since you could go and have a quick power nap to recoup. But for the rest of us who work in an office, taking a quick power nap in the board room or toilet cubicle may prove a little trickier to get away with! If your body is consistently tired, your work is going to suffer.
Depending on how long this goes on for, you could find yourself in front of your boss doing a little explaining. Listen to what your body is telling you. Don’t hit the gym after work, instead head home, have some dinner and get an early night.
4. Irregular sleep patterns.
When you first start exercising hard, it’s the best feeling when your head touches the pillow and you literally don’t move until morning.
But something’s changed recently. You’ve not been able to get to sleep. Or you hit the snooze button 20 times each morning before dragging yourself into the shower to wake up. Either way this could be a tell-tale sign of not taking enough rest days to allow your body to recuperate naturally.
So tonight, head straight home, have an early nutritious dinner, drink plenty of water and go to bed. If you’ve been struggling to sleep, try listening to some meditation specifically designed for sleep issues – you’ll be drifting off in no time.
5. You burnout.
What’s the point of all this exercise when after a few months you burn yourself out entirely?
Keeping a good work / life / fitness balance is the key to staying healthy and happy on the inside and out. So yes, workout. And yes workout hard each session. But don’t make each session, each day of the week. Take a day off after every couple of days exercising to let your body relax and repair itself.
Look after your body, it’s the only one you’ve got.