Rest Days are Important for Optimal Health. 

 A lot of people have recently started work out programs independently from home. When programming and exercising independently, adding rest days in on a weekly basis will help you achieve your goals and avoid injury. It does not matter if you are a recreational exerciser or competitive athlete; rest days are important and necessary for everyone. Here are a few reasons to add rest days into your weekly exercise routine. 

1. Muscle Growth 

Most people workout with specific goals in mind, such as to lose fat, gain muscle, and improve speed/agility. All these goals require muscle development. Exercise creates microscopic tears in the muscle tissue. During rest is when the body repairs these micro tears resulting in stronger muscles. Rest also allows muscles to replenish glycogen stores which primes the muscles for future use. 

2. Injury Prevention 

Mental and physical fatigue from over exercising can lead to bad form, dropping equipment or falling while attempting to work out. Bad form used over time can lead to severe injuries that can take weeks or months to heal. Rest days promote higher focus and bodily awareness during exercise, reducing risk of injury. 

3. Improves Performance

The principle of adaptation states the body adapts to stress (exercise). This allows it to tolerate more stress in the future. Doing too much exercise too quickly slows the adaptation process and slows progress towards goals. This is why physical therapists and trainers curate specific plans that increase exercise intensity slowly over time. 

4. Hormone Balance 

Exercise increases the amount of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. These are the “fight or flight” hormones that elevate blood pressure, breathing rate and mental awareness. Over exercising leads to chronic elevated levels of cortisol and adrenaline. Too much adrenaline and cortisol can lead to sleep issues, emotional changes, indigestion, and impaired performance. 

How to Rest

If your activities are moderate-high intensity, 2-4 rest days/week are recommended. If your activities are low-moderate intensity, 1-2 rest days/week are recommended. Low impact/low intensity exercise such as yoga, walking, biking, or swimming can be performed on rest days. Be aware of signs of over training such as chronic fatigue, muscle/joint pain, poor sleep, poor digestion, and emotional changes. If you are struggling with chronic pain or need assistance structuring your workout plan, please call today for a FREE consultation. 

By Emma Claucherty, DPT, OMPT 


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