Sometimes mustering up the motivation to work out is a challenge. But other times, like when we’re really determined to reach a goal or we feel like we need to make up for lost time, the opposite is true.
Sometimes we take on that frantic “must work out every day” mindset and completely forget that one of the most important parts of exercising effectively is giving our bodies time to recover.
Many programs incorporate prolonged amounts of exercise or intolerable amounts of stress that can lead to exhaustion. When the stress is too much psychologically for the system to handle, it can lead to injuries and can affect your ability to reach your goals.
So often we hear about the important health benefits of exercise and the negative side effects of inactivity, but it’s not as common to hear about why we also need to allow our bodies some time to rest.
Yes, it’s important to incorporate small amounts of movement throughout the day, but intense workouts definitely shouldn’t be a daily occurrence if the appropriate amount of rest is not taken.
Inadequate rest may lead to over-training syndrome or female athlete triad which commonly occurs in fitness enthusiasts that train beyond their body’s ability to recover. When you perform excessive amounts of exercise without proper rest and recovery you may experience some harmful side effects including decreased performance, fatigue, altered hormonal states, poor sleeping patterns, reproductive disorders, decreased immunity, loss of appetite, and mood swings.
So what amount of exercise is the ideal amount?
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardio exercise per week. This can be achieved through spending 30 minutes working out moderately five days per week or spending 20 to 60 minutes working out vigorously three days per week. For strength training, ACSM recommendations suggest training each major muscle group two or three days per week and leaving at least 48 hours for recovery between each training session.
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 exact amount of recovery you’ll need. You always want to allow enough time to recover fully. But not so much time that you lose the gains you’ve made.
Resting is just as important as working out because it’s an equal part of the total process required to build strength, endurance, and muscle. Working out, especially resistance training, breaks your body tissues down. In fact, resistance training breaks down muscles causing microscopic tears. Rest days allow your muscles, nerves, bones, and connective tissue time to rebuild. This regeneration process—which also requires water, food, and sometimes supplements—rebuilds your body tissues allowing them to grow back stronger. Sleep is also an important part of the process so make sure you get enough,
If your goal is to build muscle, but you’re not getting quality sleep on a regular basis, your production of growth hormone will be negatively affected and your efforts will be thwarted. Not to mention, sleep is important for maintaining good health on many other levels as well.
It is important to incorporate designated rest days in your regular workout routine and ensure that your program is balanced