When was the last time you got out of bed, ready to face the day? If the answer is “I can’t remember,” you can probably use a rest day. It’s just a day without exercise. “Every time we train or are physically active, it increases stress on the body, so we need to balance that activity with rest,” says Alana Myers, MS, CPT. An ACE-certified personal trainer and health trainer. “It makes it essential to listen to your body and take a day off every few training days.”
What is a rest day?
Physically, a rest day gives your muscles time to repair, rebuild and refuel, which helps you come back stronger, Myers says. But if you find it hard to reach your goals, the idea of taking a day off can be hard to shake off. However, without adequate downtime, you can take extra training, burnout and risk injury.
It can be helpful to know that taking a rest day does not mean just sitting on the sofa. The days of rest are slowing down, the frustration is not coming to a halt. “It can look different depending on the person,” Myers says. “For most people, active recovery will help them recover faster and more efficiently than passive recovery.” Think of walking, yoga, stretching or leisurely swimming or cycling. However, if you have been training hard and can’t come back, an activity-free day can be a good option.
Signs you need a rest day
The goal of Fitbit’s Daily Readiness Score is to provide helpful insights into guessing when you need a rest day. This metric uses a combination of heart rate variability, activity and sleep patterns to determine if your body is ready for a challenge or if you will benefit from a little extra recovery time. (Here’s how a Fitbit editor used daily preparation to optimize his workouts and improve his well-being.)
At the same time, listening to your body can provide other helpful clues, such as:
You can’t get inspired. “Usually, the first sign is that you need more rest or feel your normal motivation to work out,” Myers says. Think of it as a way for your brain to let your body know that it’s time to slow down.
You have muscle pain that will not go away. Some post-exercise pain is completely normal. But if it lasts a few days, your muscles may try to tell you that they need more time to recover. (Even if your legs feel heavy and lazy when you work out.)
I don’t sleep well at night. “Sleep helps recharge your batteries, repair tissues and relieve pain,” says Jacob Tettelbaum, MD, author Tired of fantastic. In moderation, exercise does good things for sleep, helps you move your head faster and snooze better. But excessive physical activity can interfere with the quality and quantity of sleep, depriving you of these benefits.
Changes in appetite. “When someone gives extra training, the body is overloaded and unable to recover properly,” Myers said. “It can alter hormone levels that control appetite and satiety signals.” As your body seeks fuel, you may begin to crave sweet, carbohydrate or salty foods. Or, conversely, you may find that your appetite is absolutely low.
Use the days of rest
Instead of waiting until you are completely gone to recover, try to plan a break a day or two in advance. Avoid the alarm clock and go to sleep Turn off your phone or leave it in another room “And make sure you’re only doing the things that feel good to you,” says Titelbaum. Bills, papers and laundry can wait for another day.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a medical diagnosis or treatment option. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always consult your doctor before changing your diet, changing your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.