If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Rest is over-rated!!! Well, to be honest, this needs to be put into context before you can validate or refute it. During exercise, I agree. Rest is certainly over-rated during activity. I hate down time during my workouts and those of my clients. We move constantly. However, when we’re not exercising – between workouts, sleep, etc. – the value of rest can not be underestimated. Rest is important to our bodies for multiple reasons, and I want to share a few of those with you here.
Recovery and Growth – This is a bit scientific, so I won’t confuse you with what all happens within your bodies between exercises. You just need to know a few things about this. When you’re sleeping, laying on the couch, or whatever you like to do in your down time, you are doing more than just “relaxing”. This time is when your muscles are actually recovering, repairing, and growing. You don’t get stronger during a workout, you don’t get faster during a workout, and you don’t improve your endurance during a workout. You do all of these things AFTER your workouts. Think of it like a lawn mower or vehicle. You can drive it however you want to, much like you can workout in whatever manner you like. Eventually, the car is going to need some gasoline. Likewise, eventually your body is going to need to rest and recover. You cannot keep driving that car until it happens, and you cannot make gains/improvements without those rest periods. REST = RECOVER
Fat Loss – This is another pretty scientific process within the body, so I will make it very simple. During exercise you burn carbohydrates. There is no getting around it. You can limit them in your diet to alter the amount you burn, but you are still going to use carbohydrates as fuel. It’s your body’s primary fuel source, and no amount of manipulation will change that. So when do we burn fat?? You guessed it. We burn fat during rest periods. You may be discouraged by that, but think about it for a second. How much time do you spend a day exercising??? An hour? Two, tops… That leaves AT LEAST 22 or 23 hours per day in what we would consider rest periods. The good thing about this relationship is that the more calories we burn from carbohydrate during exercise, the more calories we have to replace using fat during rest periods. So, increase efficiency of your workouts, and those 22-23 hours during rest will become much more effective at burning fat!!!
Injury Prevention – For many people, this may be the most important reason to rest. Overuse injuries are probably the most common type of injuries for those who exercise frequently. The saddest part about this??? They are almost always preventable!! Tendonitis, stress fracture, inflammation – all of these types of injuries are caused by overuse. There is certainly a fine line as to how much exercise is too much, but cutting back a day or two can definitely decrease the risk of injuries such as these. We all know that sometimes things just happen. For no apparent reason people get injured. That’s the unfortunate side of exercise. But, if we are smart about it, we can limit those chances by reducing the total amount of activity and stress we put our bodies through.
So, what does all this jaw-jacking really mean??? Get Some Rest!!! Take 1-2 days per week off from exercise to let your muscles heal and recover. A lot of people tend to follow the “less is more” philosophy of exercise. Consequently, a lot of people are right. Now, it may seem counter-productive to take a couple days off each week if you’re wanting to reach a certain goal. I’m not saying take 4 days a week to rest, just try to cut one day out of 6 or 7 from your routine. I promise you, it is important for the long run in terms of injury prevention, recovery, and growth.