Whether you are preparing for an endurance race like a marathon or simply attempting to maintain a healthy lifestyle and a comfortable body weight, it is critical to perform the appropriate amount of exercise for your specific needs. Many people still feel bad about taking a day off. Understanding the numerous advantages of taking a day off might help relieve this guilt. For example, rest is physically required for muscles to recover, renew, and strengthen. Keep reading to find out various other benefits of taking rest days:
Rest Helps Develop Muscles
Rest is necessary for the development of muscles. Your muscles experience small tears after exercise. However, fibroblast-type cells help repair it while you’re sleeping. This promotes tissue growth and healing, which builds stronger muscles. A person should schedule regular rest days and learn to identify when additional rest days are required.
Rest is also beneficial for muscle recovery after an injury or strain. This is because it helps relieve pain and swelling by increasing blood flow to injured tissues. If you’re sore, it’s important to rest the area. This helps prevent further damage and promotes healing. It is advisable to take some time off from weight training when you have an injury or strain. If you ever experience chronic pain or discomfort while exercising, consult a doctor or physical therapist before continuing with your workout plan.
Helps Prevent Injuries
It is a common misconception that the more you train, the better your body will become at adapting to physical stress. In fact, overtraining can actually have the opposite effect. According to a recent study, overuse injuries are the most prevalent kind of injury in top sports, with injured athletes missing at least three weeks of training. So, if you want to avoid missing weeks or even months of training, make sure you give yourself enough recovery time.
The good news is that there are ways to prevent overtraining from happening and make sure your body stays in top shape. Rest is crucial for recovery and injury prevention. When your body needs time to recover from strenuous exercise, it uses its energy stores (glycogen) and produces by-products called reactive oxygen species (ROS). ROS can cause inflammation, which leads to pain and fatigue. It also impairs muscle function and increases muscle damage.
This is why it’s important to give yourself enough rest between workouts — ideally at least one day of complete rest per week — so that your body has enough time to recover and rebuild itself before hitting the gym again. In addition to giving yourself plenty of time off between workouts, you can try taking an afternoon nap every day after lunchtime (we wrote about the health benefits of naps here).
Improves Optimal Performance
Rest and recovery are an essential part of any training program. Without adequate rest, you can’t expect to perform at your best. Resting the body improves optimal performance. Increased energy levels lead to higher quality in each training session, which aids performance.
Recovery is essential for growth and adaptation to occur. The body needs some time off from the stresses of training (and life) in order to improve. If you don’t take time off, your body will continue adapting until it reaches its limit — then burnout occurs. This can be a physical or mental state where there’s not enough motivation or energy left to keep going.
A well-designed training program should include periods of active recovery as well as active training (working out). Active recovery means doing something low-impact that allows you to move around but doesn’t stress your body like running does after a hard run session. Examples include walking, swimming, and yoga (or stretching).
Improves Sleep Quality
Sleep is a crucial part of life, but many people don’t get enough of it. In fact, the average American only gets about 6 hours of sleep per night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). If you’re active most days, rest days actually improve sleep quality. During sleep, your nervous system is restored and your energy is reserved. Naturally, you recharge better the more deeply and well you sleep. Getting a good night’s rest is crucial because if you don’t allow your central nervous system (CNS) to recover, your fitness suffers as well. This is because your CNS is in charge of inducing muscle contractions, reaction times, and pain responses. While you are asleep, your endocrine system and hormone profile are active- these play a crucial role in the production of hormones like cortisol and testosterone, which result in protein synthesis and the development of muscles.
Supports a Healthy Immune System
Exercise is a great form of stress relief and physical activity can help you feel better. But too much exercise can lead to immune system suppression, which may leave you more susceptible to illness.
Rest allows your immune system to function at its best. Your immune system works overtime to restore muscles, joints, and the entire body after strenuous exercise and training. Without adequate rest, the immune system is unable to restore itself properly, resulting in inflammation. Inflammation is part of the body’s natural healing process. It can be the result of an injury or illness, but it often occurs as a response to excessive physical activity. Inflammation signals your body to repair damaged tissue and restore homeostasis.
You may be surprised to learn that taking a break from exercising can actually enhance your mental clarity. Allowing your brain to unwind will encourage better focus and an increase in energy levels. Poor concentration impairs focus and attention, making it difficult to complete tasks demanding more extensive observation. Taking a break from exercising can help you regain your focus and attention. You will find that the task at hand is easier to complete when you are not mentally exhausted from exercising.
There are many ways to take a break from exercising. You can take a walk around your neighborhood with your dog, stretch or do yoga poses, meditate, or simply sit down on the couch and watch an hour-long TV show.
Helps Avoid Overtraining Syndrome
Overtraining syndrome can occur when an athlete does not adequately recover after repetitive intense training, and can include fatigue, declining performance and potential injury. The Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) states that “overtraining syndrome occurs when an athlete doesn’t adequately recover after repetitive intense training, and can include fatigue, declining performance and potential injury.” Because everyone responds differently to different training regimens, predicting if you’re at danger for overtraining may be difficult. However, it is critical to arrange enough recovery time between workouts so that your body can repair itself properly.
The symptoms of overtraining vary from person to person but typically include:
- Muscle soreness or stiffness
- Decreased performance in training or competition
- Exhaustion during workouts or races
- Depression or irritability
Makes Time for Other Activities
It is important to take time to rest and relax. When you are stressed, your body releases stress hormones that may be good for short-term survival (like when you are being chased by a lion), but they are not so good for long-term health.
The body’s stress response can be harmful over time: it increases your blood pressure and heart rate, suppresses the immune system, increases muscle tension, and inhibits creative thinking. Stress can also lead to anxiety disorders and depression.
You may learn more about yourself by taking time to relax and let your body heal. You can use the time to practice meditation, pick up a new hobby, or catch up with loved ones. Research suggests that “picking up a new skill, gathering new information, or seeking out intellectual challenges” helps destress as well.
Taking time to rest and relax helps your body recover from stress, which can improve your health, happiness, and productivity.
In a recent study, researchers found that people who took two rest days per week were more likely to stick with their exercise routine than those who took one rest day per week. The results suggest that individuals may keep a regular training regimen with the same passion and energy, from start to finish, when they take regular rest days.
One of the most common reasons people stop exercising is a lack of motivation. They are considerably more likely to quit the gym if they are discouraged and fatigued. Overtraining to the point where every session is dreaded without taking into account recuperation time is a definite method for members to arrive at this viewpoint.
Hence, encouraging active recovery days will keep people motivated and involved in their fitness journeys.
The study involved 21 participants (average age 24) who completed 6 weeks of supervised high-intensity interval training (HIIT) on a treadmill. The HIIT program consisted of three types of intervals: 2-minute sprints followed by 90 seconds of moderate exercise; 4-minute moderate exercise followed by 2 minutes of sprinting; and 4 minutes of walking or jogging at an easy pace followed by 2 minutes of sprinting.
Helps Overcome General Adaptation Syndrome
Dr. Hans Selye hypothesized that the stress response of an organism may be divided into three stages and named this condition GAS. While working out and adding additional reps, the exertion on the muscle group generates muscular exhaustion, moving towards the resistance phase of GAS. This is why personal trainers design particular workout regimens that gradually increase duration and intensity while allowing for rest days.
The stress response is a highly individualized reaction to physical activity or exercise and acts as a protective mechanism in times of need or danger. It comprises three stages: alarm reaction, resistance reaction, and exhaustion reaction (GAS). The alarm reaction occurs when there is a threat to our survival such as running from an attacker or fighting off an animal attack. The resistance phase occurs when we exert greater energy in order to overcome a challenge such as running faster than someone else or lifting more weight than we normally would because we want to win a competition. The exhaustion phase occurs when we exhaust all energy reserves so much so that it becomes impossible for us to continue any further because fatigue sets in and our body stops functioning properly as it does during activities such as running marathons or completing triathlons where athletes collapse from exhaustion after crossing the finish line