When you’re focused on a fitness goal, taking a break may feel counterproductive. In our all-or-nothing society, resting is often viewed as weakness and laziness. But contrary to what you may think, fitness recovery days are essential to your overall goals and your health.
Here’s why you need fitness recovery days:
Muscle Recovery: Most women aim to develop and strengthen lean muscles. The process of muscle building is cyclical. As you workout and strain your muscles, you create tiny tears that break down the muscle. Your immune system is then activated to help repair the tears. When the connective tissues of your muscles rebuild, they grow back stronger and therefore strengthen your body. To some extent, the same occurs with nerves and bones. By waiting at least one day between working on the same area, you allow your body the time it needs to heel and rebuild properly.
Human Growth Hormone: Another way your body regenerates muscle is through human growth hormone. This vital hormone is stimulated by true rest including less activity, sleep and a well-balanced diet. Many women make the mistake of working out hard but not sleeping enough for adequate fitness recovery.
Injury Prevention: In the broken down state, your muscles, nerves and bones are weaker and less able to handle stressful workouts. If you continue to work the same areas day after day, you are at greater risk of injury. Fitness recovery days are essential to avoid injury so you can continue to work towards your goals.
Less Fluid Retention: As part of the heeling process, your body surrounds sore areas with fluid to protect muscles, joints and tendons. While this natural defense can be helpful, it may also lead to further injury. Plus, prolonged inflammation may cause chronic conditions that are painful and potentially hazardous to your health.
Improved Progress: Allowing for fitness recovery days will actually speed up your fitness progress. By following a regular routine of workout and rest days, you’ll probably notice increased stamina, endurance, and strength, as well as a lower heart rate and less recovery time after workouts.
More Energy: Many women workout because it is invigorating. Creating intermittent muscle fatigue can be good, but daily it may drain your energy. With proper rest, you can reap the awesome energy that exercise should provide.
Better Health: When your immune system is tied up constantly trying to repair muscles, you are more susceptible to illness. Exercise should be an immune boosting activity, which you can achieve when you incorporate fitness recovery days.
Depending on your goals, fitness recovery days don’t always require a full day off from exercise. If you are strength training, work out muscle groups in a rotation so each group gets at least every other day off. High impact cardio can be paired with low impact yoga as a resting activity. And some days should just be complete rest days for your physical and mental health. Keep in mind, you probably won’t need as many carbohydrates and calories on your rest days. Adjust your diet to reflect your daily fitness program.
Sources: Active Times and Wellbridge