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August 7, 2022 — 10:29 AM
We know that regular exercise is essential for improving your cardiovascular health, muscular strength, and even offering a boost of endorphins. When you’re getting so much benefit from your daily sweat sesh, it can be difficult to force yourself to take a day off. However, if you’re regularly skipping rest days, it’s likely you’re doing more harm than good for your body, reducing the benefits of your workout, and potentially putting yourself at risk of injury and exhaustion.
“To stay strong and healthy, it’s in your best interest to take at least one day per week to rest,” Stephanie Thomas, CPT previously wrote for mbg. Believe it or not, your body might be trying to tell you that it needs a rest—and you’re ignoring it. Do you know the signs?
Signs your body is asking for a rest day.
1. Muscle soreness or inflammation.
While soreness after a strenuous workout is completely normal and not always an indication that you need to take a rest, you should take note of pervasive aches that aren’t going away—especially if you haven’t taken a day off in a while. “This could indicate systemic inflammation from over training,” explains physical therapist Sarah Kostyukovsky, P.T., DPT, OCS.
“Your body will feel sore or even warmer than normal,” NASM-certified personal trainer Jason Williams adds. “This could affect your performance and being able to perform at an optimal level.”
If you’ve been feeling more stressed and agitated than usual, this could be coming from more than just your busy schedule. “Mentally, you may feel more stressed or agitated. You need time to relax and clear your mind to be able to focus better,” explains Williams. Working out regularly does put strain on the body so it’s natural that this may wear you down over time. Although it’s a great way to work off pent up aggression, sometimes you need a day off to decompress and reset your mind.
3. Your workouts feel excessively difficult.
Set yourself up for success with a good night’s sleep.*
Of course you want to feel challenged with each workout, but if exercises you can generally do with ease are feeling excessively difficult, it might be your body’s way of telling you to relax. “Your body most likely needs a day [or so] to recover from the muscle breakdown that accompanies progressive training,” Kostyukovsky explains. In order to perform to your highest capacity, your muscles need the opportunity to recover, and they can’t do that without a rest day! That’s also not to say you need to sit around in bed all day: an active rest that includes going for a walk or doing a light yoga flow can be just as good for your body.
4. Changes in sleep patterns.
Finding yourself needing naps during the day or heading to bed earlier and earlier? Yeah, you need a break from working out. “You could experience more daytime napping which may keep you up at night,” warns Williams. “This will affect your energy level during working out and even lead to fatigue during the day.” The best way to nip exhaustion in the bud is by building rest days into your routine so you don’t find yourself burnt out and unable to complete your planned workout. Remember: you should always be listening to your body.
You can’t meet your fitness goals with your full potential if you aren’t giving your muscles enough time to recover, so listening to your body is the best way to avoid injury, maintain your energy up, and actually continue to enjoy working out. “Do a mental and physical check in with yourself after three or four days of working out. Notice any extra fatigue, focus, soreness, and tightness in your body. It may be time for a rest day,” says Williams. May this be your sign to take a day off—you deserve it!
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