Taking a Rest Day from Exercise Isn’t Lazy — It’s Vital to Your Recovery
Productivity is highly valued in our society. If you’re not constantly pushing to achieve more, or “grinding”, it’s not uncommon to feel like a failure. This can also be applied to exercise. Fitness culture can make it feel like you should always be working towards gains and goals in exercise.
And, while that might be highly motivating for some people, it’s not the case for everyone, which is why it’s important to prioritise and value rest days. You don’t need to be go, go, go all the time and when it comes to exercise especially, your body actually needs time off.
In fact, rest days should feature heavily in your exercise routine as, according to Healthline, it allows your body time to recover and repair. “It’s a critical part of progress, regardless of your fitness level or sport. Otherwise, skipping rest days can lead to overtraining or burnout.”
The next time you’re feeling lazy for taking a rest day, remember these incredibly important reasons for doing so:
Rest is essential for muscle growth
Building muscle — be it through weight training or bodyweight exercises like mat Pilates — is tiring on your body. In fact, the process of building muscle involves creating tiny tears in your muscle tissue. These microscopic tears heal during periods of rest, as it allows the tissue to restore and grow, which results in stronger muscles. Yep, it’s true!
It also improves your performance
When you’re pushing yourself on an empty tank, chances are you aren’t performing at your best. According to Healthline, overtraining actually decreases your physical performance while rest has the opposite effect. “It increases energy and prevents fatigue, which prepares your body for consistently successful workouts.”
And, can support your sleep
It might seem counterintuitive that resting actually helps you sleep better, but physical activity increases hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which help boost your energy levels. As Healthline points out, exercising constantly without rest days can overproduce these hormones and make it hard for you to achieve quality sleep.
Resting helps to rebalance the production of these hormones and in turn, should encourage more restful sleep. While scheduling regular rest days each week might feel difficult when you’re working towards certain physical goals, try to take at least one day off per week from high-intensity exercise.
If you still want to move your body on these days, opt for something less harsh on your body like walking or yoga.