On August 15th people all over will celebrate National Relaxation Day. That’s right, believe it or not there is a national holiday dedicated to the all-important topic of relaxation. So in light of the holiday, and the importance of relaxation within the fitness community, we’re going to take a look at why rest and recuperation is essential in the journey toward fitness and living an overall healthy lifestyle.
When starting out
When you’re at the start of your exercise journey, you may be overly eager to keep hitting the gym because you’ve already seen great weight loss results within a seemingly short amount of time. A good thing to keep in mind is that your body is incredibly smart. You actually have built-in protective mechanisms that work to keep you from overtraining that could lead to losing too much weight. One of the telltale signs of overtraining for many exercisers is that they hit a plateau in their weight loss. An easy way to avoid the dreaded plateau is by intentionally working periods of rest into your weekly exercise routine.
Rest works to protect your body from injury by preventing overuse. Whether you lift, run, are addicted to Tabata, or rock climb—you can feel when your body has had enough and needs a break. If you push yourself to your absolute limit, you are more prone to break, strain, or tear one of those overused areas that would have benefitted from a well deserved rest.
When working to see gains
As experienced lifters know, when you lift heavy weights you tear muscle fibers. In order to see your muscles grow in a healthy way, you need to not only feed your body the right nutrients, but you need to get adequate rest. Trainers and the best of lifters will tell you that rest is essential to seeing the gains that you’re working toward. Your body’s immune system requires a decent amount of rest between periods of intense work to be able to effectively repair and grow your torn muscles. For strength training in particular, ACSM recommendations suggest training each major muscle group two to three days per week and suggest that you leave at least 48 hours for recovery (this can be a complete rest or simply switching to light form of cardio) between each of your training sessions.
When to seek medical attention
Overtraining is a real problem that should not be taken lightly. If you find that you have an obsessive personality to the point that you are not able to take a rest from working out, it may be time to speak with your doctor. For females, overtraining can lead to major health issues like missed menstrual cycles which can cause a drop in estrogen and overtime can lead to premature bone density problems. If you feel that your mood or overall health is being negatively affected by your current workout routine, we suggest seeking the help of a medical professional who will be able to get you on track toward better health and physical performance.
When you may be approaching burnout
One of the most scary parts of neglecting to factor rest into your exercise regimen is the increased likelihood of burnout. Balance is an essential component of life, and we’ve all felt at times when one thing, person, job, etc. is taking up way too much of our time, emotions, and energy. For most, when balance is thrown off, we search to get back to equilibrium by cutting out the problem all together. If you’re getting to the point where you feel like exercise has taken over and it is damaging other aspects of your life, now it the time to reassess. Step back and make a exercise plan that makes more sense for you and your lifestyle and then give it a try before considering throwing in the towel.
How do you plan on spending your rest days this week? Will you take the entire day off, or just turn down the intensity a bit by just enjoying a brisk walk around the park? We’d love for you to share your plans (and pics!) with us and others in the MYZONE community on social media by using one of our top hashtags #myzone #effortrewarded or #myzonemoves.