While the majority of people struggle to get enough exercise in their day, there are some people who veer toward exercising too much. If you’re an athlete, training for an event, or exercise daily simply because you love the way it makes you feel, make sure you are giving your body adequate time to heal.
For your body and mind to be at its optimal state, it needs adequate rest periods to repair and re-energize. Your body does not get stronger, fitter and faster from working out; it gets stronger and faster from recovering from your workouts. Workouts are the stimulus for change, while the physical response (getting fitter) happens during recovery. The adage “more exercise is better” is only true to a certain point. Too much exercise, and not enough rest can be just as detrimental as not enough exercise. Symptoms of not getting enough rest include plateau, depression, increased resting heart rate, staleness, increased risk of injury, decreased immune function and general feelings of fatigue.
How much rest do you need? Good question, and like many good questions, there’s not a good, clear-cut answer. The amount of rest you need depends on what else is going on in your life (work, stress, other physical activities), your fitness level and how hard you workout.
Here are some guidelines to make sure you’re getting enough rest:
- Take a rest day every 3-5 days if you workout daily. You can still be active on your rest day, but do something that helps you recover such as gentle yoga, or a walk.
- Schedule recovery weeks into your training plan. Aim to progress your workouts for 3 weeks and then plan a week of lighter workouts to give your body time to recover.
- Change up your workouts regularly. Run one day, boot camp the next day, do upper body strength on the third day, and so on. If you always change up your workouts, versus running everyday, your body will naturally get a chance to recovery. If you are training for a specific event or sport, such as running, use cross training to vary your workouts and give your body rest.
- Make sure that not all workouts are intense. If you go really hard on one or two days in a row, schedule a lighter workout on the third day (maybe an easy run, or bike ride).
- Fuel your body well. High quality nutrition will help your body recover.
- Listen to your body. If you really, truly feel like you need a rest, you probably do. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if you’re simply feeling unmotivated, or if your body needs a rest. If you’re unsure, you can get dressed and start your workout. Go for 10 minutes. How do you feel now? Do you feel energized? Or, do you feel more exhausted than when you started? If you still feel like you need a rest, take a rest day.
While working out is important; the rest between workouts is when the body gets stronger. Vary your workouts and intensity level, and schedule recovery time into your workouts regimen to get the most out of your hard work!