But rest and exercise are two sides of the same coin. They’re the yin and yang that give great results when they unite in perfect balance.
If you don’t take rest days, you risk falling short of your fitness goals and hurting yourself from overtraining.
Most people feel anxious about losing all the gains they’ve worked so hard for, and thus overtrain. This condition can be very tough to recover from.
No fear. Just understand why rest and exercise are inseparable. Then listen to your body, and you’ll know what to do. Here’s why.
1 Your body is the smartest device. Ever.
What’s difficult at first becomes second-nature with enough attention and practice. As your body adapts to the (good) controlled stress of a workout, it becomes more well-balanced, supple, coordinated and strong. You’ll feel great.
2 Not too fast, not too slow
You’ll need to gradually increase the level of stress (e.g. heavier weights, longer distances) to hit new limits. Here’s where things can get tricky: being too conservative leads to little benefit. But doing too much, too fast, risks injury or long-term damage; hence the need for rest.
3 Your body improves during rest
As you push your body beyond its current limits, you change it, such as by causing micro-tears in muscle tissue. At rest, the body adapts to the (controlled) stress by repairing and regrowing it better than before. Without rest, the muscle tissue simply breaks down, leading to muscle loss. So rest, and nourish your body well.
4 Your immune system is boosted by rest
Your muscles and joints are constantly being repaired by the immune system. Without rest, the immune system falls behind in its repairs, leading to injury. You also become more vulnerable to infections when you overexercise.
5 How to know how much rest you need
This depends on the intensity of your workouts, your workout plan, and its duration, among other dynamic factors. Keeping a training log is great for objectively tracking progress. Subjectively, if you feel motivated and your body feels relaxed and limber, you’re on the right track. But you still must keep aware of how your body is responding as you workout, too. A certified fitness coach can design a workout plan that takes into account all the above, besides keeping an eagle eye on your form and progress.