We all want to see results from the gym, and it may be tempting to go hard every day in hopes that those all-important goals are reached quicker. But it is important to schedule rest days into your weekly routine. Here we explain 5 reasons why rest days are important.
1. To rest your muscles
Most of you will already know that when doing strength training and lifting weights, you are tearing your muscle fibers with the strain. The mending of these torn muscles builds them stronger. Without a time of rest between sessions for this repair to happen, you aren’t going to see results. This is also why is best to vary the muscle groups you are working on, on separate days, so they have a chance to rest, heal and grow.
2. To prevent injury
Rest days are important for injury prevention, and it’s better to choose to rest to prevent injuries than be forced to rest for weeks because you have caused yourself damage. Whether you lift weights, run or play tennis, extended use of a particular muscle, puts a strain on your body and the repetition without a rest day can cause muscle and joint damage and that is when injuries occur. In order to avoid any long term problems and avoid injury, schedule in rest and allow your body to recover.
3. Improve sleep
We all know exercise is excellent for your health and overall wellbeing, but too much exercise can put your body in a constant state of adrenaline and endorphins, causing restlessness and difficulty sleeping. If you have a high resting heart rate, this is a sign that your body is in a high alert state and may be causing you difficulty in getting to sleep. Taking rest days is important to calm down your heart rate and alertness which can help get you a night of sound sleep. Getting a night of good solid sleep on a rest day will also help you to do a stronger workout the next day as you won’t be fatigued.
4. To strengthen the immune system
During periods of intense or daily exercise, our immune system is constantly working to repair the muscles and joints that are being used. Your immune system is not only having to fight off everyday viruses but also work extra hard to make the repairs your body needs. Without a rest day, your immune system is under constant strain and will struggle to catch up on the repairs. A low immune system can lead to you getting colds, flu, and injuries, which will put you out of your routine for much longer than a rest day.
5. For your mental health
It can be hard to let yourself take a day off. Rest days can feel counterproductive when you could be working on your goals, but it is important to know that you can take days off and that it is good for you. From a psychological view, exercise can become all-consuming, a rest day allows your mind to take a break from the focus of exercise. Mental tiredness can be every bit as problematic as physical, and taking a rest day helps to recharge your brain. Also take the day to catch up on other hobbies in your usual gym time such as seeing family, reading a book or getting ahead with work.
It is important to note that you should not worry that you will lose your your performance by taking a rest day. It takes almost two weeks of non-activity for your performance to start dipping, so one or two days off will not set you back, it is only beneficial!