When you set a big goal or start an ambitious new workout regime, there’s one secret ingredient you’re likely to overlook even though it’s proven to enhance your success. Rest. Just like staring at a computer too long or staying up late to finish an important project, working out everyday without rest can do more harm than good.
“Not taking a rest day could result in muscle soreness, a decrease in your immune system, decreased performance or injury,” Candice Dunkin, MS, LAT, ATC, manager athletic training, Parkview Sports Medicine said. “Rest is also good for your mental motivation when exercising. Taking a day off a week can re-energize you and make you want to get back into your activity with a new sense of excitement.”
If you’re fairly new to exercise or recently introduced a more demanding practice, a rest day every third day is a good place to start. As you become more comfortable in your exercise routine, a good rule is to take one rest day per week of activity.
What if you don’t want to take a rest day? “Try another activity,” Candice suggests. “Perhaps instead of running, take a yoga class. Or instead of weight lifting, go for a walk. “
Even Olympians and professional athletes work at least one off day into their week, if not more, depending on their training regimen. “The body needs time to rest and repair. Even experienced athletes need time to do this. Ultimately, it is important to listen to your body.”
Candice suggests spending your off day resting, enjoying nutritious meals and soaking up time with family or friends, which can be more beneficial to your mental well-being than the effects of exercise is some instances.