As spring approaches, my clients want to amp up their training, push for new goals, or lose that last ten pounds before warmer temperatures arrive and winter sweats are retired.
In our rush to see results, it’s easy to forget about resting. We tend to skip over this chapter in our workout binders and focus on achieving goals quickly. However, rest is one of the most important factors in a successful fitness journey.
If you’re not achieving the results you’ve been working hard for, your body is at a plateau, or you’re feeling exhausted, rest may be the missing link in your training. I know getting rest may be not only a physical battle, but a mental one, so here are the benefits of giving the body a break, to encourage you to kick your feet up.
When constantly training, we can overuse areas of our body where we want results. Whether a runner, cyclist, weightlifter, or dancer, you know how much demand your body faces in each workout. If we push too hard and too often without a break, our muscles and joints suffer from overuse. This is often when we see injuries.
Mix it up
Whether you are working on a bikini butt, washboard abs, or increased speed on the track, focusing on the weak area of the body instead of on a balanced training program not only breaks the body down but creates imbalance in the muscles we aren’t working. A balanced program allows all muscles to be properly trained and lets the immune system repair and grow the muscles. If we don’t allow the body to mix it up, it misses out on the full benefits of our workouts.
Don’t worry about setbacks
Clients often express fears about missing workouts when working on big goals, but in reality it takes the average person two weeks of “non-activity” before losing a noticeable amount of progress. Stressing about having skipped your workout is actually more damaging than sitting around doing nothing! So skip the stress, kick up your feet, or go for a walk. Progress and power are in balance.
Get peaceful rest
Late night workouts, overtraining, or lack of proper nutrition can all be factors putting our bodies in a state of high alert, which causes restlessness. If your heart rate increases at bedtime, you sweat during the night, or you have an anxious mind when trying to sleep, you could be overtraining; your body is saying it’s time to slow down. Rest days allow the body to slow down, relax, and keep hormones at positive levels. Proper rest days mean better sleep and more alertness for those workouts!
Give your immune system love
One clue I’m overtraining and not allowing myself proper rest is when I experience illness. If we are constantly in active mode and don’t allow our muscles/joints to repair, there will eventually be a toll on our immune system. Just as our bodies go into overdrive when we don’t get enough sleep, our immune systems do likewise when we don’t allow time for repair, rest, and relaxation. When sickness shows up, we also see our progress decrease, and we start to feel mentally fried. Feeling like your immune system is burned out? Maybe today just grab some green juice, visit the sauna, and hit the hay early.
Keep your head in the game
Taking time to properly rest is going to affect many areas of your body, one of them being mental focus. Take days off to refocus your mind, remind yourself you can do this and about why these goals are important to you. When we get tired, mentally exhausted, and emotionally worn out, we tend to allow poor nutrition to work its way in, we lose the balance of what our body is telling us it needs, and we lose the strength to really show up for ourselves or others on a daily basis.
I want to always love fitness, set big goals, and enjoy new adventures. I know if I don’t rest and recover, I’ll risk missing out on all that my body can allow me to do. This is the only body you have! Train hard, set big goals, and allow periods of proper physical and mental rest.
Rachel Doell is an instructor, personal trainer, mother, and wife who loves health and fitness. Her fitness company, Daily Routine Fitness, features simple ways to fit living a healthy life into your everyday routine.
Article was published in The Good Life magazine.