Fitness Diary: Why rest days are crucial while working out
Rest allows the body to repair, recover and prevent overtraining or burnout
While health and fitness professionals always encourage you to stay active and exercise, most people fail to stress the importance of rest days. Getting enough rest is just as important as getting enough exercise as it allows your body to repair and recover. This prevents overtraining or burnout. Your body needs rest if you are experiencing excessive soreness, fatigue, pain, mood swings, inability to sleep or reduced performance.
Different factors, like the intensity level of your workout, the total volume of your weekly training, your training experience, and your age, will all influence the amount of recovery you need. I generally recommend my clients to give a day's rest between training similar muscle groups again or to take a complete day off once a week. I find that they benefit from this in a number of ways.
Allows muscle growth
Exercise creates tears in your muscle tissue and rest is essential to help repair these tears leading to muscle growth. A rest day can therefore be viewed as a time for the beneficial effects of exercise take place.
Prevents muscle fatigue
Exercise depletes your muscles' glycogen levels which your muscles require to function, even when you are not working out. Rest is therefore essential for avoiding exercise-induced fatigue. If these glycogen stores aren't replaced, you will experience soreness and tiredness.
Lack of rest makes everything more challenging. Getting enough rest, on the other hand, prepares your body for better workouts. It allows you to lift heavier, run faster and push yourself harder as your body is a lot more prepared.
Supports healthy sleep
While exercise increases energy-boosting hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, constant exercise can overproduce these hormones making it difficult to sleep. Rest allows hormones to return to a balanced state, helping you get better sleep.
(Yasir Khan is a Dubai-based transformation expert with 17 years of experience in fitness and mind coaching.)