A rest day is a day off from training. Taking a break from your regular workout routine allows your muscles to recover, adapt and become stronger. Rest days also help to prevent a workout plateau or overtraining.
Benefits of a rest day
Exercise puts stress on the body, including the joints, which don’t have much padding for projection from injury. The knee, ankle and hip joints take a particular beating with respect to the repetitive nature of running. Without regular rest breaks, they may become sore and swollen. A much needed rest between bouts of exercise will help avoid this problem and keep your joints healthy.
In general, it takes your body almost two weeks of non-activity before you start losing a noticeable amount of your progress or performance level. So don’t think that taking a day or two off from training will set you back all that hard work you’ve put in. A day off training can be exactly what you need to boost your motivation.
Are your sleep patterns all over the place? Over-training could be the culprit. Too much exercise can put your body in a constant state of restlessness or on high alert making a good night’s sleep tough to achieve. A common sign is an increase in your resting heart rate. Taking those rest days can help bring down your heart rate, which can help get you a night of sound sleep.
Rest days scheduled throughout a training period will help reduce the risk of injuries due to over-training. Over-training happens when too much stress is put on the body without adequate rest periods. It is much wiser to allow for rest days than end up benched for weeks or even months because of injury.
Muscle Repair and Strengthening
Rest days are crucial to facilitate muscle repair and strengthening. During exercise, you don’t build muscle, you break it down. The building process happens during your rest days. Rest days help you recuperate so you can, for example, lift more, run faster and walk longer during your next workout session. Fitness and performance don’t start to suffer until you take more than two weeks off of training.
What to do on a rest day
A rest day doesn’t necessarily mean you need to rest from all activity, aim for light, non strenuous activities.
Walking, light cardio, yoga and stretching are great options to keep your body moving on a rest day. By choosing one of these options on your rest day, you still reap the benefits of having a rest day and allow for lactic acid to move out of your muscles.