The Importance of Rest Days
Now we are all at some point guilty of not taking a rest day! I used to think that I needed to train everyday sometimes twice a day. It was the only way that I found time to unplug from my daily stresses. It was my “me time”. Well as it turns out I may have been over stressing my body just a wee bit for many years. Even though I thought it was a de stressor, it was actually increasing a different type of stress on my body. I wasn’t allowing recovery time and therefore not seeing the results I was working for. As a matter of fact I was overtraining.
According to Wikipedia Overtraining occurs when a person exceeds their body's ability to recover from strenuous exercise. Overtraining can be described as a point where a person may have a decrease in performance and plateauing as a result of failure to consistently perform at a certain level or training load; a load which exceeds their recovery capacity.
Side effects on the body may include:
- Decreased Performance.
- Increased Perceived Efforts During Workout
- Excessive Fatigue
- Agitation & Moodiness
- Insomnia or Restless Sleep
- Chronic or Nagging Injuries
- Metabolic Imbalances
- Psychological Stress & or Depression
Rest days play an important role in creating balance in the body. By allowing your body to have rest days:
- You allow for tissue repair
- Replenish energy stores
- Can help decrease risk of injury
- Avoid burnout
- Can essentially make for a happier athlete
Now taking a rest day doesn’t mean “Do Nothing”. It’s simply saying make it a light or easy day of activity. There is this wonderful thing called Active Rest. According to www.theathletesedge.com active rest “Involves performing light exercises (often swimming or cycling) that stimulate the recovery process without imposing undue stress on the injured body part.” Basically get moving.
Suggestions for active rest days include:
- Go for an easy to moderate hike with your friends or family
- Take an easy bike ride
- Go for an easy swim
- Do some light stretching and foam rolling (highly recommended on rest days)
- Take a walk
- Play with your dog/kids
- Do some sort of fun sport or activity (just don’t play too hard or it won’t count)
Remember that your body needs rest, not your goals. In order to achieve these goals rest allows the body to recover and is essential for optimal performance. Sometimes doing little less can be more!