The Power of a Rest Day


Everyone needs a day off from working out now and then. Rest prevents overuse injuries, restores glycogen levels and helps prevent mental burnout. But rest and recovery doesn’t have to mean doing nothing. One of the main keys to a healthy lifestyle is maintaining a healthy attitude. As Springtime fast approaches, a rest day can mean doing more low-impact outdoor activities if your stuck in a gym or more social ones if your exercise routine is usually done solo.

A big fear when taking time off from a fitness routine is detraining—the loss of fitness and performance that occurs when you stop working out. However, this doesn’t usually occur until the athlete has more than two weeks of inactivity. According to the American Running Association, rest is a variable to apply in response to the feedback your body gives. When it follows difficult bouts of work, rest lets your body adapt to the work and improve. Staying moderately active on rest days will not only help prevent detraining but maintain the healthy minded lifestyle necessary to continue exercise.

Indoor activities are the easiest ways to stay moving on days off. Things like low-impact yoga or stretching also have the bonus of adding flexibility to a weight training or cardio routine that you may otherwise be lacking. OnDemand and Netflix both have yoga and light stretching programs available for free or cheap as does iTunes. Stretching the day after strenuous exercise also helps to prevent tight muscles and can indicate any injuries that may not be otherwise noticeable till your next workout.

Rest days can also a good way to switch up a routine that can tend to get monotonous. “Fun” fitness activities or ones that can be done as a group outing are especially beneficial. Activities like bar league volleyball or softball are not only easy to come by, but they can get people together who may not otherwise participate in team sports.

“I never did team stuff in school,” says Katie Stein, who plays on a bar league volleyball team. “It’s fun to have something planned with all my friends for the middle of the week that’s also a positive activity.”

Things like easy biking or hiking are also perfect low-impact activities to increase heart rate and have some fun. With many cities developing thriving biking communities, it’s easier than ever to take a leisurely ride and local hiking trails are just an application away with which offers over 48,000 trail guides from the top outdoor publishers.

An important guideline for light workout days is to add variety and take it easy. If you usually run, try biking or swimming. If you usually weight train try going snowshoeing or hiking. Do what you like to do, whether it’s volleyball, rock climbing, disc golfing or bowling. Some training objectives that are good to consider for easy days are flexibility and range-of-motion challenge. Keep in mind that increasing respiration and heart rate to a level just slightly above normal is generally a good thing to do almost any time and any day, regardless of your physical activity level.

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Categories: Home, Sections, Your Fitness, Your Lifestyle

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