Is it important to take a rest day?

Quarantine is over, and you’ve just blown the dust off your gym membership card or just applied for one. It’s time to start building back that muscle we all lost, which means getting our bodies adjusted to working out again. Even though you may think that going to the gym everyday is the path to success, it’s actually very important to take care of your body and not put too much strain on it. So, is taking a rest day important? Here’s what to know. 

You may follow a few fitness Tik Toks or Instagrams where it seems that the person is quite literally always in the gym, every single day. It’s true that some people dedicate a lot of their time to the gym, but one very important thing about keeping your body fit and healthy is taking care of it. That means pushing yourself to the limit everyday is often not the best way to get fit. In fact, injuring yourself may actually set you back.

One of the main reasons why taking a rest day is important during a fitness journey is that it allows your body to adjust to your new workout routine and also replenish energy you might have spent in yesterday’s workout. Researchers during a 2004 study for the International Society of Sports Nutrition Symposium found that it takes at least a full day after working out to fully restore the energy we need (such as carbohydrates) in order to keep our blood sugar levels balanced (1). This is especially important if you’re doing a lot of cardio. Another reason why this is key is because without balancing sugar levels, this may impact your sleep cycle or increase feelings of anxiety and depression. 

Our bodies aren’t afraid to tell us when we’re doing too much, so it’s key to take a day or two in the week in between exercise days in order not to strain any muscles or get overly fatigued. According to a 2006 study, researchers found that training excessively without taking proper rest can actually damage our muscles as opposed to building them. Results say that in order for the body to build muscle and adjust, it requires weeks of both training and adequate rest (2). So, the idea that you’ll lose the muscle you’re building by taking a rest day actually couldn’t be less true.

This being said, taking a rest day doesn’t always mean lying on the couch and binging Netflix (we wouldn’t blame you if you chose to do that though). You can still be active on your rest days, but make sure to take it slow. 

Ways To Be Active on Rest Day:

Yoga:

After an intense workout, your muscles may feel tight or a little bit uncomfortable. Yoga, or just stretching, is a great way to relax any tension you may be feeling and also keep those muscles strong. Plus, what’s more calming than a child's pose?

Swimming:

Whether it’s at your local gym, your backyard, or at a hotel rooftop, swimming is a fun-filled activity that can also be a light exercise. If allowed, try taking a few easy laps around the pool or simply tread water. 

Hiking:

Spending time in the great outdoors and taking a hike with friends can be a great way to take it easy, but also keep your body moving. However, since it’s a rest day, make sure not to push yourself too hard.

Bike Ride:

When you’re on the open road with the wind blowing in your hair, it’s easy to forget that bike riding is actually a really simple way to get a quick workout in. Just try staying on a flat road and avoiding too many strenuous hills.

Walking:

We know it sounds obvious, but walking around can be one of the best ways to relax and also stay active. If you have errands or plans on your rest day, consider walking to each destination if possible. This lets you take in the sights and also get a easy, breezy workout in.

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