When you hear the words ‘Self Care’ you might think of taking the day off from physical activity, laying around – being “still” (what is that anyway?) OR you might think of getting a massage or stocking up on aromatherapy. And I’m not here to tell you that this is a bad thing… but you will get way more bang for your buck if your “Rest Days” come after a really good workout, or two. Not only will you feel better for taking the day off – your body actually benefits from it. A recent study showed that people who took a Rest Day after two consecutive days of high-intensity workouts had reduced levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines, proteins produced by white blood cells that help dampen inflammation.
Rest is crucial to improving your fitness and athletic performance! Here are some guidelines for different types of exercise & the recommended Rest Days.
Typically, rest days aren’t necessary for light cardio. This includes activities like leisurely walking or slow dancing. It’s safe enough to do every day, unless your doctor says otherwise.
But if you’re doing moderate or vigorous aerobic activity, rest days are essential. It’s recommended to take a rest day every three to five days. If you do vigorous cardio, you’ll want to take more frequent rest days.
You can also have an active rest day by doing a light workout, like gentle stretching.
To determine when you should rest, consider the recommendations for aerobic activity. Each week, adults should get 150 to 300 minutes of moderate activity or 75 to 150 minutes of vigorous activity. You can also do a combination of moderate and vigorous activity.
These guidelines can help you plan your rest days. For example, if you’d like to do three days of 50-minute vigorous cardio sessions, you can plan rest days and other workouts around them.
While running is a form of cardio, it usually requires a different approach to rest days.
If you’re a beginner, start running three days a week. Running too much too soon can lead to fatigue and overuse injuries.
On the other days, let yourself rest or do different activities. Your other workouts should involve muscles you don’t use while running.
Rest days are even more important if you’re training for a marathon. In the last three weeks before the event, it’s best to rest more often. A personal trainer or running coach can explain how to rest based on your goals.
Bodybuilding, or weight training, incorporates rest days by rotating the muscles worked.
After exercising a specific muscle group, let it rest for one to two days. This gives your muscles a chance to repair and heal.
On the other days, train different muscles. Be sure to work opposing muscles to keep your body balanced.
One way to do rest days is to assign a day for each body part. For instance, Monday can be leg day, Tuesday can be chest day, and so on.
For weight loss
If you’re trying to lose weight, you should still have regular rest days.
Rest allows your muscles to rebuild and grow. And when you have more muscle, you’ll burn more calories at rest. That’s because muscle burns more energy than fat.
Additionally, when you feel refreshed, you’ll be more likely to stick to your exercise routine.