[wp_ad_camp_1] So you are a runner, a yogi, biker and a hiker. You enjoy a variety of ways of being active and you are on the move nearly every day of the week. You have different friends who you get together with for all your different activities. For some of you active people, "rest day" isn't in your vocabulary. It's a bad word, a sin, and you can't even imagine the horror of not running for a day. But is it good for you to constantly go, go, go without a break? Nope. Here are 6 reasons why you should find balance in your active lifestyle and take a day off every once in a while!
1. Refueling days are important
The more you work your butt off, the more fuel your body will need to keep up with your activities. Many people think that if they cut back their cardio, they will gain weight. Calories become something to fear. Maybe you feel like you need to burn off a certain number to validate your food intake for the day. Give yourself a break! Calories don't take into account nutrition, vitamin content, macro and micro nutrients and appropriate fuel for your body. Forget the number, focus on the bigger picture of nutrient content. Let your body tell you when you need to eat, and choose frequent, small meals full of nutrient dense foods. Your hunger is proportionate to your lifestyle, and the harder and the more frequently you work out, the hungrier you will be.
On rest days, don't worry about your calorie intake! Let your mind rest on this day too. If you end up consuming more than normal, your body will use the extra fuel to repair your sore muscles, not slow down your metabolism. Excess fuel every once in a while lets your body know that more fuel is coming, and it will more effectively break down and utilize what food you eat. This can actually help in weight loss and recovery. That's right, eating more (good food) CAN help you lose weight, and increase overall fitness!
2. Overtraining can cause plateaus in weight-loss
You know that if you work out a lot, it is possible to lose weight. Most people don’t know that it can also have an opposite effect. Your body is super smart, it knows when you are training too much and it will protect itself. When you overtrain, go too long between meals or don't have enough rest, your body goes into what's called "starvation mode." In starvation mode, your body acts like a sponge. It absorbs and holds on to whatever calories you put in because it's not sure when the next meal time is, or if it will have enough fuel to sustain your next long workout. You'll begin to burn muscle rather than carbs for energy, causing your performance to decrease and your weight loss to plateau or reverse. Make sure you take adequate rest and get enough fuel often enough to sustain your active lifestyle, keep your weight loss goals on track and sustain increased performance.
3. Rest helps you get stronger
When you use your body, whether running, lifting weights, in power yoga or swimming, your muscles get tiny tears in them. These tears are both why you feel the burn after those 100 squats, and also why your butt gets stronger and more toned over time. These changes in physique and strength happen when the tears are repaired, which happens most effectively at night, when your body is at rest. This process of muscle repair is what makes you stronger than you were before, and lessens the soreness from a rough workout. It is always important to work your muscles hard, but it also just as, if not more important to give your body ample time to rest for this repair process. If you're rested enough, when you go hard in your next workout you should feel fresh and ready for the challenge.
4. Have more energy!
Working out gives us endorphins, its awesome! The energy that working out gives us is wonderful, but sometimes if we over-do it our body's energy can dip to uncomfortable and unproductive lows. How do you know if your workouts are depleting your energy rather than adding to it? Easy. If you feel so exhausted from your workout that you to need a nap halfway through your day, can't maintain focus, are hungry all the time, or your body is so sore that you don't fully recover by the time your next workout rolls around, you are probably doing too much. Best tip: Listen to you body. If it is screaming at you saying, “I am tired, all I want to do is sit.” Well then, it is time to skip that workout for the day and use the time to get a few extra hours of shuteye.
5. Learn a new skill
All medical issues aside, if you are being extremely active EVERY DAY, it is a huge time commitment. While it is important to make time for things that increase your quality of life, if workout is the only thing that you have as your daily dose of fun, you need to get another hobby. Hang out with friends, maybe suggest taking a healthy cooking class one week instead of going on your weekly bike ride. Get a manicure, catch up on your favorite show, learn a new skill! Maybe dedicate the hour you would have spent working out to giving yourself some quality you-time, learning something you've always wanted to learn or getting some cleaning done. If you feel like you need a workout for the mental health release each day, try a gentile yoga class or start a meditation practice.
6. Stay in love
For everyone from people just starting to be active, to pro athletes, one of the most important benefits of rest days is that they help you keep the passion for your active life alive. If you love being active, rest days can be really hard. You suddenly notice that about five-million people are running outside that day, the water in the pool sounds AMAZING in this heat, and just LOOK at how relaxed and detoxed that girl looks walking out of the yoga studio. You want that. You're hungry for it. You can't wait to get back into the workout world tomorrow. Guess what, days off help fight burnout, keep you on track if your trying to build a workout habit, help you come up with new ideas for workouts, new things to try and new ways to be creative in your activities. If you're catching yourself thinking negatively about doing what you used to love, take a day off. If you're not allowed to touch your trainers for a day, you just might remember how much you love the track.
Whether you're a competitive athlete, or an occasional runner, rest is one of the most important aspects of any training plan. Play around with how many days of rest your body needs to feel your best. You should have enough energy to make it through your day with a good attitude, and feel good and tired when you finally hit the hay. Try taking a full day of rest every 4 days, every 6 days, or alternate between one day off every 4th day and then every 3rd. No two bodies are exactly alike, and it's likely that your rest day schedule will be different from your friend's. Thats normal! Find out what works best for you and make sure to utilize your body's amazeballs repair system.
Images via: @themagicalbeing