Why Rest Days Are Important
Whether you are a seasoned lifter or new to working out, here are some reasons why you should be taking one (or more) rest days each week.
What exactly is a rest day?
A rest day is a day in which a person takes a break from their normal workout routine. Lifting weights, running, rock climbing, swimming, hiking, or any other form of exercise that you perform on a regular basis place stress on your muscles and can lead to fatigue. Taking at least one day off each week from these physically demanding activities helps the body recover and helps keep a person injury free.
Why rest days are necessary.
The muscle pain and soreness felt after regular workouts is a buildup of lactate within the muscles. Days of rest help to remove this buildup. The body has built-in energy stores in the form of the molecule glycogen. When we workout, we breakdown these molecules to provide energy to the muscles. Rest days help give our bodies time to replenish the body’s supply of these molecules.
Under the stress of working out, microscopic tears occur in the muscle. Cells called fibroblasts lay down new tissue to repair these tears when we are not working out, and rest days give the cells more time to repair more muscle tissue. If adequate time is not given to repair these muscles, the repetitive wear and tear can lead to muscle strain, or even partial or complete tears of the tissue.
Lastly, working out can be mentally exhausting as well. Rest days can help reduce mental fatigue and tiredness, both of which can lead to poor decision making and decreased cognitive function, and even reduced physical performance.
Here are some signs that you are in need of a rest day:
- Constant muscle soreness
- Noticeable reduction in energy or ability to complete workouts
- Changes in behavior or mood such as:
- Mood swings
- Increases in incidence of minor injuries or sickness
- Slowed progress
Rest days can include light exercise such as walking, and should include things that you enjoy doing that keep stress levels to a minimum. The stress hormone cortisol can really hinder recovery and results, so embrace the rest! Realize that resting is just as important as the workouts in order to reach your goals!