The rush of endorphins after a long run, tense muscles after lifting heavy weights. It’s a wonderful, addictive feeling.
For many people who exercise, the feeling they get after an intense training session plays just as big a role in their daily training as the need to stay physically fit and healthy.
But, the rest days between training sessions are just as crucial in getting you to your physical peak. Unfortunately, many people skip their rest days, instead opting to train as much as possible, as often as possible.
Rest days aren’t just time spent lying around. Instead, they are an essential part of any fitness regime, where your body builds muscle and repairs damage, helping you prevent serious injury.
The importance of rest days:
To build muscle, you need rest. When you exercise or lift heavy weights, your muscles experience microscopic tears. These tears are a natural, and essential, part of the muscle-building process.
However, these muscles can’t heal and grow stronger without the proper rest time that is required for them to heal.
Overtraining leads injuries and burnout. Your body isn’t made to cope with repetitive strain without rest in between. Joints, tendons, and muscles can all sustain debilitating injuries that could prevent you from ever exercising again.
Listen to your body, rest when you’re tired, and start fresh after a good rest.
Exercise and mental wellbeing go hand-in-hand. While exercise can release feel-good endorphins, your rest days can provide you with equally vital enriching experiences. Overexercise, however, can lead to mental fatigue. Reset, recharge, and exercise when you’re ready.
But what if rest days are simply too much for you to bear? What if you still want to find something to do, to keep you busy, and to keep your body moving? Well, that’s where active recovery comes in.
Active recovery is where you still get to exercise on your rest days. Crucially, these are low-intensity, low-impact exercises that promote healing while still moving.
Active recovery includes:
Walking is a simple, low-impact exercise that improves blood circulation and helps to burn calories. If you walk outside in a beautiful park or any peaceful environment, it can also have a positive impact on your mental wellbeing. This reduces stress and helps your body heal and prepare for the next exercise session.
Yoga or Pilates
Yoga and Pilates both focus on gentle movements, flexibility, and enhancing core strength, all while being low impact. These stretching exercises promote active recovery, reducing soreness and promoting better posture (something many of us could benefit from).
Low impact, yet effective. Swimming gentle resistance training, enhancing blood flow to muscles while reducing pressure on joints. Water-based exercises are particularly beneficial for those with joint issues or recovering from injuries.
A balanced approach to fitness is key. Your rest and relaxation should go hand-in-hand. But, if you can stand still, consider active recovery, but always listen to your body, and give it the chance it needs to be at its best.
Make the most of your active recovery days with the Tempo Fitness Journey, available via the Bestmed App and/or Member portal (website).
Log exercises, join Tempo On-demand exercise classes, take part in challenges, or set your own, all at no cost to you. It’s the all-in-one, tailored track to a healthier, happier you.
Healthline. 2019. What You Need to Know About Active Recovery Exercise. Available here.
Adidas Runtastic. 2022. Active recovery: The best way to spend your workout-free days. Available here.
Runner’s World. 2022. What's the difference between rest and active recovery? Available here.