Obviously, we’re big fans of working out. And we want to help spread the workout love! But do you want to hear a secret, bulldoggers? We take rest days, too — in fact, everyone should. There are plenty of good reasons you should take a day off from working out, and pushing through them 365 days a year can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health.
According to Medical Daily, rest days are actually as important as the days you spend exercising. Taking the day off from working out does not make you a slacker! Medical Daily recommends taking a day off from moderate- to high-intensity fitness approximately every third day. You can take active rest days by going for walks or doing some lower-impact yoga.
Now that we’ve established how many rest days you should take, let’s talk about why those rest days are important in the first place. Check out these eight reasons that it’s important to take a day off from working out.
1. You’ve gotta give your muscles some rest.
This is hardly breaking news, but a regular workout routine can be really tough on the muscles. If you’re trying to build strength, that’s kind of the whole point (to some extent, at least). According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, when you do any sort of strength training or other exercises, you’re actually causing small tears in your muscle fibers. As you can imagine, this puts a lot of stress on the ‘ol bod.
But here’s a fun fact (again, per the University of Rochester): strength-building actually doesn’t happen while you’re exercising and causing those tears. You get stronger when you rest and allow your muscles to rebuild. Basically, if you don’t build in those rest days, all of your muscle-building will kind of be for, well, nothing.
Also, if you’re working out every. single. day, your muscles are bound to get sore! Taking days off will ease those aches and pains.
2. You need to replace the energy stores in your body.
We’re about to get scientific on ya. Are you ready?
According to ACE Fitness, moderate- to high-intensity exercise relies on something called the glycosis energy pathway. This pathway uses carbs to fuel muscle activity. When you burn up all of those carbs, you can also deplete your glycogen levels, making you feel sluggish and drained while you’re trying to get a good workout in. Glycogen provides the body with a ready source of energy when blood sugar levels decrease, so it’s important to have some in the tank!
In fact, when glycogen levels dip too low, your body may need to use protein for fuel, which means it can’t be used to build muscles. Again, this kind of defeats one of the major purposes of exercise in the first place.
Taking a day off from working out allows your muscle cells to restore their energy so you can avoid that sluggish feeling and stay on top of your fitness game.
3. You can take time to focus on your mental health, instead.
Clearly, we’re big cheerleaders for the importance of working on your physical fitness around here. But we are not prepared to skimp on mental health, either!
There are plenty of easy ways to improve your mental health, but unfortunately, we often get soooo busy that we just don’t have time to actually do them. That’s where taking a day off from working out comes in!
Use the time that you normally would have spent at the gym, yoga studio, or doing bodyweight exercises on activities that fuel your mental health, which is just as important as your physical fitness. Spend time with people you love, practice mindfulness, listen to good music, or read a book. You’ll be ready to jump into your next workout stronger than ever, since your stamina and energy will be renewed.
4. You’re getting bored.
No matter how much you love to exercise — and no matter how much we shake things up at bulldog yoga with our awesome playlists and resistance bands — you’re bound to get bored of your workout routine eventually. And you know what happens when you get bored? You lose interest!
After all, you’re only human! (A spectacular human, yes, but still human.)
If you feel yourself getting fed up with your workouts, it might be time for a rest day. When you take a day off from working out, you can get back into it feeling reenergized, which could mean you’ll work out better and yield better results.
5. Your workouts will be better when you allow for time off.
Healthline notes the importance of rest days for improved performance. Working out too much can lead to overtraining, which can cause reduced endurance, slow reaction times, and poor agility… not to mention decreased motivation.
Taking a day (or more!) off from your usual routine will force your body and mind to rest, improving your overall performance and motivating you to do your best. If you feel like you’ve been off your fitness game lately, we would highly recommend a rest day. You might be surprised by how much stronger you feel after some down time!
6. You want to avoid potential injuries!
By now, we’ve made it pretty clear that there are a lot of proven risks associated with working out too much. Your muscles can suffer damage and grow weaker, your energy stores can get seriously depleted, you can lose stamina, your endurance and response time will suffer… and the list goes on!
We know, we know — we’re a little bit of broken record. But combine all of those factors and imagine how much more prone you might be to injury next time you exercise! UConn Health confirms the importance of rest days for injury prevention.
7. You need more sleep.
Bulldoggers who get their sweat sessions in first thing in the morning may often find themselves choosing between fitness and an extra hour of sleep. It’s a tough call!
Exercise is great for your body and mind, but so is rest — and getting better sleep is a critical part of your overall wellness. If you’re feeling especially exhausted, listen to your body and give up a workout every few days in lieu of more snooze time. According to Harvard Health, seven to nine hours is the ideal amount of sleep for most adults, so aim for that whenever possible!
8. You just… feel like it.
Sometimes, it doesn’t have to be any more complicated than that! Maintaining a healthy relationship with exercise is absolutely critical if you want to continue to exercise regularly, and knowing when it’s time to take a day off from working out is a key part of that healthy relationship.
If you don’t feel like working out on a given day, that’s totally okay! Giving yourself some down time may just make you that much more excited and motivated to get back into your routine later on.
When you’re ready to get back in the game after your rest day, you should totally check out our class schedules. (Villanova | Boulder | Malvern)
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