Americans have never been more in need of exercise than they currently are. According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control, more than 93 million are obese, and another 99 million are overweight.
The figures indicate that obesity and poor fitness are becoming more than an inconvenience, they’re well on their way to becoming an epidemic.
Perhaps, due to the substantial threat of death from corpulence, many have taken their exercise regimen straight to the heart. After all, if working out is good for you, then working out daily can only be great, right? Actually, No.
Rest days are just as important as exercise. In fact, many health gurus will tell you that no exercise regimen is complete without rest days.
So when it comes to exercise, less is often more. But what’s worse than no exercise, is too much exercise. Here’s exactly why.
Let’s dive deep!
Everyone agrees that exercise is good for you. It can help you improve mental health, fight depression and stay in great shape overall. However, indulge in too much of the high-intensity stuff, and you may be making things worse for yourself.
Health experts generally recommend a moderate-intensity exercise regimen on most days of the week. If you’re the type to engage in the high-intensity stuff, you should only indulge 3-4 times per week. Push it without rest for too long and you are in danger of affecting your overall health. This is because rest days when taken properly, help you:
Strengthen your immune system
While moderate exercise is key to strengthening your immune exercise, too much can actually suppress it. In the immediate aftermath of intense exercise, your body usually has a period of impaired immunity.
This period lasts for up to 72-hours and while it remains, viruses and bacteria may have an easier time of invading and infecting the body. Taking well-spaced rest days between intense exercise gives your immune system time to recover and keep you safe.
When you don’t get enough rest, it can be hard to perform well in your normal routine, much less outdo yourself. At its most basic, exercise is simply focused and repeated activity. Doing it far too often and without enough rest will leave you jaded quickly.
This makes it harder to do an extra rep or run another mile, simply because your reserves are gone. Rest has the opposite effect, increasing energy and preventing fatigue, which prepares your body for consistently impactful exercise.
Protect against the risk of heart attack and stroke
According to some studies, overtraining can expose you to health risks in the form of heart attack and stroke.
Extreme exercise can essentially “remodel” the heart by thickening the muscle’s walls and scarring tissue. While the changes are reversible with a bit of rest, too much exercise calcifies them, exposing you to risk.
Give your body time to recover
Since exercise is repeated activity targeted at certain muscles, overtraining can lead to a bit of wear. Keep at it without rest, and you may end up inducing painful tears in the muscle groups involved in your workout.
Sensible exercise targets a group of muscles with moderate to intense training for a limited period and gives them a chance to rest. This ensures that they have time to heal from the stress of exercise and grow in the same period.
Support healthy sleep
If your sleep cycles have been all over the place, you may want to review your exercise schedule. Physical activity increases energy-boosting hormones like cortisol and adrenaline.
But too much exercise overproduces these hormones, making it harder to get quality sleep. Rest supports healthy sleep by letting your hormones return to a healthy, balanced state.
Signs you need a rest day
How do you know when you’ve been pushing it far too often and for too long? If you notice any of the following signs, it might be time to take a break:
- Pain: Constant muscle or joint pain might be a sign of an overuse injury. If it simply refuses to go away, what you need may be better-planned rest days.
- Sore muscles: Although soreness is normal after exercise, persistent soreness is not. It may mean your muscles have failed to recover from past workouts.
- Sleeping issues: Hitting the sack far too infrequently? You just might be operating on a constant adrenaline buzz you don’t need. Cut back and get some rest.
- Fatigue: It’s normally okay to feel a bit tired after moderate to intense workouts. But if you constantly feel extreme exhaustion, you may need to let your body rest.
- Reduced performance: If your normal routine feels difficult or if you stop seeing progress, you may need some rest.
- Emotional changes: Changes like crankiness, irritability and mood swings may be due to hormonal imbalance. Some quality rest days should set you right.
How to make the most of your rest days
Rest days are all but useless to you if they’re not done right. To get the most out of your rest day, consider the following:
Generally, you don’t need as many calories on rest days since you’re not as active. But rather than set about omitting a specific number of calories, let your body lead the way. It’ll naturally require less food through satiety and hunger cues.
Ensure you get enough protein into your system. Adequate protein intake helps with muscle repair and growth. 1.2 to 2.0 grams of protein per kilogram of body weight each day is recommended for active people. Make to space this evenly throughout the day.
Also, focus on complex carbs to restore your glycogen levels. You’ll need between 3 to 10 grams per kilogram of body weight per day, depending on your activity level. Make sure to stay hydrated throughout the day too. This helps prevent muscle cramps. Fruits and vegetables will also offer healthy carbs that aid recovery.
Yoga is one of the best things to do on a rest day. It helps improve breathing, body awareness and flexibility. It will help you loosen your muscles and build strength at the same time.
A few well-chosen routines will promote calmness and leave you refreshed enough to face the next workout. You don’t have to sweat at it either. Only 10 to 15 minutes per day will do.
Rest days don’t necessarily mean off days as far as exercise is concerned. You can still stay active through low impact workouts that let you exercise without overstressing your body.
Walking, dancing, biking, and casual swimming are all great activities that will also help you enjoy your exercise and relax while you’re at it.
So, keep in mind that while exercise does you a world of good, it’s no use to you if you’re a burned-out shell.
Plan your activities carefully between light-moderate and moderate-intense activities with evenly spaced rest days. This ensures that you get the absolute optimum out of your workouts and still feel great afterward.Check out our collection of athletic wear that keeps you comfortable and stylish while getting your workout on.