This week marks the last week of the SportPort 60-Day Challenge! It took some serious dedication, a lot of sweat and possibly some tears, but here we are feeling stronger than we did before. As we reflect on our achievements, we’d like to switch gears and talk about something different: the importance of rest days.
We all know that it takes dedication and training to reach our fitness goals, but it also requires proper rest. Taking rest days, or days “off” where you’re not actively training, is essential to a proper fitness routine. They give your body time to recover, potentially preventing injury, and help prepare your body for upcoming workouts. A rest day can mean no activity whatsoever or it can be an active recovery day, such as stretching or going for a long walk.
No matter how you choose to recover, you should make sure you include rest days in your workout routine. Here are five science-backed reasons why rest days are essential!
Rest days give your muscles time to recover.
Your muscles need time and proper fuel to heal themselves after tough workouts.
Rest days give your body time to repair after workouts. When you do a hard workout, you create microscopic tears in your muscle fibers (don’t worry, this is normal!). To mend, your muscles need time and proper fuel in the form of food. When you take a day or two off to recover, cells called fibroblasts come in to repair your muscles and make them even stronger than before.
Pro Tip: Treat your body with kindness and give it a break from strenuous exercise often.
Rest days allow your body to refill energy stores.
Use your rest days to refuel on complex carbs, and fuel your muscles for your next workout.
When we eat food, our bodies break it down during digestion into glycogen, a form of energy that is stored in the muscles. Working out taps into our glycogen stores to help up power through, but they will eventually become depleted if we work out too much, which leads to muscle fatigue. Rest days allow our muscles to restore their glycogen stores so that we can come back better than ever. Be sure that you’re fueling properly with complex carbohydrates to help your body prepare your muscles for your next workout!
Rest days are time for your body and mind to reset.
Hitting the gym has an effect on your body and your mind, so be sure to give them a break.
Did you know that overexercising can tire the mind as well as the body? It’s true! One study published in Current Biology found that excessive training led to mental fatigue and physical fatigue. This increased participants' risk for injury and impacted their impulsivity. People who decided to take it easy were able to make better decisions and be more productive throughout their week. Be sure to listen to your mind in addition to your body when you’re exercising! It needs a break from the gym just as much as your body does.
Rest days let muscle soreness die down.
Muscle pain and soreness is your body’s way of telling you to take it easy.
Have you ever heard that lactic acid buildup is the cause of muscle soreness? This is actually false! Muscle soreness from exercise is caused by the microscopic tears in the muscle. If your workout is tough enough, these microscopic tears can cause serious muscle pain and soreness. Many people often try to power through severe muscle soreness, but this can make things worse and cause injury. Instead, listen to your body and give your muscles time to heal. This will help strengthen your muscles and prevent you from straining anything during a workout.
Rest days can improve your performance in your workouts.
Rest days strengthen your mental toughness and willpower, which can help you perform better in your next workout.
If you are constantly working out and training hard, chances are you will burn out…eventually. Rest days can help you improve your mental toughness and strengthen your endurance overtime. Ever heard the phrase: Slow and Steady, Win the Race? Think about it: when you’re exerting your body without proper rest, it’s physically exhausting and injuries are prone to happen. However, taking a day off can help you build strength to work hard the next time you’re at the gym. More isn’t always better and taking time to rest can help you come back better and stronger.