Do you feel guilty when you take a day off of exercising?
Do you become worried you won’t reach your goals if you have a rest day?
In order to get fitter, gain muscle mass, lose weight or improve in sport the body needs to be put under a degree of stress (i.e. training or exercise). Once this has happened, the body needs time to adapt to the stresses and for this there must be a period of recovery
What Happens During Recovery/Rest?
Building recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues. Without sufficient time to repair and replenish, the body will continue to breakdown from exercise.
Your muscles adapt when you rest. When muscles are put under stress tiny tears are created in your muscles that can only repair during rest. This repair process is what makes your muscles bigger/stronger/toned than before. While it’s important to work your muscles it’s equally as important to give your body enough time to recover.
Lack of recovery can cause a weight-loss plateau as well. We know that regular exercising at the right intensity can lead to weight loss, but most people don’t realise that by not building in rest days to your programme it can also have the opposite effect. This is thanks to your body’s built-in protective mechanisms meaning overtraining can cause a plateau in your weight loss or even cause weight gain.
Rest and recovery are also important in the prevention of injuries. Plus building in rest days can help maintain a better balance between home, work and fitness goals.
Getting quality sleep is also an important part of recovery. Make sure to get plenty of sleep as your body uses this time to aid the repairing and replenishing process.
How Many Recovery Days Should You Have?
If you’re just starting out in exercise, it’s important that you build into it slowly to allow your body to adapt to the demands. Maybe try exercising on two consecutive days, but have a rest on the third day. If you just keep going, without any rest, your body will soon start to fatigue and you’ll find it difficult to complete any exercise sessions and may pick up injuries.
If you are an experienced exerciser it is important to have at least one day of recovery every 7 days to allow your body rest. If the thought of not doing any form of activity fills you with dread, going for a 20 minute walk or gentle bike ride will still allow recovery and will psychologically fill your need to be active.
What Happens If You Don’t Have Enough Recovery/Rest?
If you have too few rest and recovery days this can lead to overtraining.
The most common signs of overtraining include:
• Decreased exercise performance
• Agitation, moodiness, irritability or lack of concentration.
• Excessive fatigue
• Chronic or nagging muscle aches or joint pain.
• Injuries that will not heal
• Frequent illnesses especially colds.
• Insomnia or restless sleep.
• Loss of appetite.
Remember to plan your exercise routines carefully making sure you include rest days for your body to recover and adapt to the training you are doing. This will allow you to reach your goals in a potentially quicker and injury free way.
So, the next time you are fee guilty for having a ‘day off’ from exercise STOP IT! Think about all the changes that are happening in your body moving you ever closer to achieving your goals.