Rest Up: The Importance of Rest Days
There’s nothing wrong with taking your health and fitness seriously - by all means, we encourage it. Pushing yourself past boundaries and taking on new challenges is what helps us reach our goals. For some of us diehard fitness freaks, the real challenge isn’t pounding out a few extra push-ups or running that extra mile - it’s knowing when to take it easy.
Hydration, sleep and nutrition are not the only important recovery tools. Rest is equally vital.
We know, we know. The idea of a rest day can leave some of us feeling uneasy, listless, and guilty. Visions of flabby guts and cottage cheese thighs abound - but trust us on this, your body needs to rest. It needs to rest as much as it needs to work. Your days off working out will actually enhance the quality of your next workout.
Rest days also boost your immune system. Overtraining stresses your body and causes your levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) to rise. High levels of cortisol inhibit your immune function, which increases your risk of contracting colds and flus.
Don’t get us wrong, cortisol is not a bad hormone. In the right balance, it actually helps us burn fat efficiently. However, a constantly stressed out body will lose sensitivity to cortisol. This will make it more difficult to lose fat and build muscle mass, defeating the purpose of your workout. Combat the ill effects of overtraining with at least 7 hours of sleep a night and one day of rest a week.
Let’s keep in mind that rest days aren’t an excuse to plant yourself on the couch, eat a block of cheese and watch the entire first 2 seasons of Game of Thrones. Practice active living. Go outside for a stroll, hit the beach, bike to a farmer’s market. Let those limbs loose!