A huge component of health and exercise is giving your body the appropriate amount of time off to rest and recuperate. Just like your mind needs time to unwind after a long day of work, your body needs time to recover after a workout. Figuring out exactly what you should be doing on your rest days, however, can be tricky.
Take the Break
It’s easy to assume that more exercise will equal quicker, more noticeable results, and while this is true to a certain extent, failing to give your body the appropriate recovery time can actually hinder your fitness progress.
There’s science to back up the need for rest days. Research shows that after a high-intensity workout, our muscles face fatigue and damage. This is why we feel sore after a hard workout: our bodies initiate an inflammatory response to help us recover. It’s not until after the workout that our bodies start working to rebuild these damaged and fatigued muscles to be even stronger, which leads to muscle gain and toning. Failing to give ourselves ample time to rest and recuperate, however, can exacerbate the normal wear-and-tear our muscles face, and can lead to injury.
Also, taking a nap has long been considered a sign of laziness or unproductiveness. However, research shows that napping can have numerous benefits for our health and well-being. A short nap of 20-30 minutes can improve alertness, memory, and cognitive performance. It can also help reduce stress and boost mood. Napping has also been linked to lower risk of heart disease and improved immune function. However, it's important to note that napping for too long or too late in the day can interfere with nighttime sleep. So, if you're feeling tired or sluggish, don't hesitate to take a nap and reap the benefits of this simple yet powerful activity.
A Resting Routine
On the flip side, taking a rest day doesn’t mean you should do nothing. A productive rest day involves active recovery, meaning that you still get in some low-intensity movement. For example, yoga, walking, stretching, or even a massage are all great options for your rest days. In general, try not to exert yourself past around 60% of your maximum effort on your rest days.
Exactly how many rest days you should be taking depends on your personal fitness goals. In general, listen to your body: if you’re feeling overly sore, take the day to focus on another muscle group, get in some good stretches, or just walk around the block. With Shred’s personalized fitness programs, you can input your individual goals for workout recommendations that will push you to your limits without overexerting you. Let’s get started!