Written by: Edward Sherako, Health Fitness Specialist
So, your fresh start has really taken off this year. Goals are being achieved and healthy adaptations are evident. There has been a definite "AHA!" moment and the day just does not seem fulfilled without the daily bout of exercise.
Beware of some pitfalls that can occur at this stage. Overtraining can cause repetitive movement injuries or incidental strains and tearing of tissue. Feelings of fatigue or even mood swings in extreme cases can happen. Lack of variety with exercise selection can cause a plateau in fitness gains which leads to frustration or boredom.
Have you considered the role that rest plays in a well-rounded fitness regimen? Fitness experts know that rest plays an important role in the success of people who work out consistently for long periods of time. A well-developed fitness regimen is divided into three different lengths of periodization; micro, meso and macro periods. Macro is the largest and can last 6 months or a year. This is where an athlete can expect to achieve long term goals. Meso is medium and typically represents the point at which fitness enthusiasts change and progress the exercise prescription. The meso period lasts 4, 8 or 12 weeks. It is also a strategic time to take a rest week. Micro periods last a day to a week. You gauge how you feel and how well you execute. Improvements are frequent and recorded, however, every workout may not be the best workout ever. In fact, as time goes on one might not feel mentally or physically up to the task.
Maybe it's time for a thorough stretch or yoga video. Take a walk in the park, gentle bike ride or jog for a good recharge and change of pace. There are a million options, the point is, you just took a rest day.
"But I missed my work out! I was doing so well!"
Take comfort in the knowledge that the rest is a good thing. In a nutshell, muscular adaptations occur during exercise as the tissue has been worked beyond what is typical during daily activities. Rebuilding and adaptations take place post workout and resting every 3 to 6 days accelerates the process. There are neuromuscular, cardiovascular, systemic and mental benefits as well. Understand that in the long run these benefits are accelerated not hindered by incorporating rest into the regimen.
Benefits of taking fitness rest days:
- No loss of strength or muscle
- Avoid overtraining syndrome
- Allows the body to focus resources/energy on recovery
- Heal strains, pulls, & small tears
- Rest fatigued muscles
- Restore neuromuscular system
- Replenish glycogen stores
- Improved systemic function
- Rest mental fatigue – avoid burnout
- Refill motivation & enthusiasm