It’s easy to get into a rhythm in your workouts and not want to take a day off. It’s also common to fear that taking days off from your workout schedule will cause you to lose all of the progress that you’ve made. But it’s important to remember that rest is a vital part of any exercise regimen. It allows your body to repair, rebuild, and strengthen the muscles that you’ve taxed during your workout. And allowing your body the proper time to rest will lead to better results in the long run.
As mentioned above, one of the foremost reasons that people resist taking rest days is because they fear that their performance will be negatively affected. This simply isn’t the case. Most experts agree that it takes at least one—and more often two—weeks for your body to start to lose the stamina and muscle that you’ve built from working out.
In fact, not taking rest days can lead to adverse effects from your training. When you work out, you are actually tearing your muscle fibers. If you don’t rest afterwards and allow your muscles to repair and re-grow, you’re not getting all of the benefits of the hard work that you’re putting in. Add to that the fact that not allowing your muscles to rest after a workout means that you’re much more likely to experience a pull, strain, or tear, and it becomes clear that rest is a vital part of exercising.
Not resting affects your overall health as well, not just the muscles that you’re using for your workout. When you’re constantly exercising and not allowing your body to recover, you can overtax your immune system, which will struggle to keep up with all of the repairs that it’s trying to make to your body. A weakened immune system leads to injuries and illness.
And rest isn’t just vital to your physical health, it’s also important for your mental health. People who exercise constantly, day in and day out, often experience mental burnout. That is, they lose the mental edge they need to workout effectively and this leads to a lack of motivation and poor performance. Allowing a day off here and there will likely result in more enthusiasm and energy the next time you exercise.
Often, the most difficult part of taking a rest day is convincing yourself that it’s okay to take a rest day. If you’re running into that problem, try scheduling your rest days in advance and thinking of them as a built-in part of your exercise routine. And remember that getting the proper rest between workouts will lead to a healthier lifestyle and more prolonged and positive effects from your exercise.