Usually when people begin a weight loss or fitness program, there is an internal rush toward change. “Finally! I’m doing something about it! Bring on the gym membership and the salad greens!” Enthusiasm is a very good thing, but when I began to get very active, I started to have a complicated relationship…with rest days. Rest days made me feel guilty and itchy for activity. I was beginning to see myself as an athlete, and what kind of rock star was I if I took a day, or (heaven forbid) TWO days off per week from my program? I began to find that rest days were actually more challenging than workout days. After months of continuous effort, I didn’t know what to do with myself when I took the day off. I’ve since learned (well, more accurately, am in the process of learning) how to “tolerate” rest days, and not feel as if I’m in danger of going off the rails.
Below are five good reasons to take at least one rest day per week, and one revelation about your Day(s) of Rest.
1. Rest days are…Necessary for injury prevention. Resting your muscles and tissues allows them time to recover. Overuse injuries are no fun. And when you’re tired, you’re more likely to make mistakes in your training, or rush through it, which will make you more injury-prone.
2. Rest days are…Important to avoid mental burnout and hating your program. And they’re nothing to feel guilty about.
3. Rest days are…When you should be cutting back on your calories and carbs in order to maintain a calorie deficit and to burn more fat.
4. Rest days are…An opportunity to hang out with family and friends. When we’ve found a new passion, it’s easy to forget that not everyone shares it. Take time to reconnect with those you love doing activities you all enjoy.
5. Rest days are…Meant to be enjoyed.
You’ve earned that rest, and more importantly, for the reasons above, it’s important for your body and mind to take it. Rest days should not suck.
And now: The Revelation. Rest days can be active. Some days you might want a true rest day where you lie around and write blog articles (no, no, I actually went to the gym today), but often “rest” means taking the day off from your lifting program and doing some non-strenuous cardio, such as a moderate hike, bike ride, or walk. It may also mean going to a trampoline park, going ice skating, or swimming. It’s like cross-training, only with a more relaxed, nurturing approach. On rest days, you may need to rest specific muscle groups, your whole body, and/or your mind. It’s up to you. The important thing is to make sure you take at least one day off per week.
Happy Rest Day!