Whether you’re exercising for weight loss, or training for lean muscle development, rest is vital in order to reach those goals. Why is a rest day important in exercise? It’s a common question among many gym-goers and one you’re probably asking yourself right now, so let’s cover the basics around this dilemma.
Many gym fanatics find the idea of taking a ‘rest day‘ as a massive hurdle to their regime, designed to help them fall off track and to have to regain all of the hard work they’ve put in over the last few days. Though is further from the truth than you can imagine, we all need a rest day, regardless of your reason for working out.
It goes without saying that one sure fire way of re-energising is by resting. Every time we workout whether it is strength or cardio training we cause strain on our muscles, tendons, ligaments and joints – our bodies go through a lot. We also lower our immune system when we workout, meaning we’re temporarily less able to fight off infections and diseases. It’s therefore important for our bodies to re-energise and have the time to rebuild our defences and begin to put back together the pieces.
As mentioned above, we cause tremendous strain to our muscles and bones when we exercise. Without adequate rest we could be allowing our bodies to become overused and overworked which could lead to injuries occurring, if you’re pushing too hard regularly this is when injuries are more prone.
When we’re overworked, and continually pushing our bodies on the cross trainer we release a hormone known as Cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, Cortisol can prevent you from getting a good nights sleep, and sleep is another opportunity where our bodies can rest. We need that sleep, not only to feel fresh in the morning but also to give our muscles the extra opportunity to relax.
Every time we work out, our muscles take the majority of the pain, for example, each exercise you do stretches and tears the muscles in your body (sounds gross), this is how your body reacts to this physical activity. If you’re aim is to body build and to grow muscle mass we need those muscles to repair, and grow larger than when they do, this is only possible with rest – sleep helps but not as much as an official rest day.
My final advice for taking a rest day, and solving the mystery: why is a rest day important in exercise, is mental ability. I’m taking a rest day as I write this article, I like you hate taking a day away from training but sometimes you just need to give your brain a rest, as well as your body. I know quite easily when I am due a rest day because my eyes start to sting, I have less energy, I eat more servings of carbohydrates and I struggle to wake in the morning. If you’re experiencing the same as me, its time to rest!
Although you’re dreading a rest day, hopefully with the info i’ve provided above you’ll begin to see the importance of taking one. I hate taking rest days, I do, but there are ways to get them over and done with… such as reducing carb intake on these days and replacing it with fat. Bring on the peanut butter!