Let's Talk About Rest
Rest is a key piece of your training or exercise program. It is just as important as the training. Let's look at the top 5 reasons why rest is a key piece of your training or exercise program.
1. Rest allows your muscles to recover from the training you are doing. When strength training/lifting you tear muscle fibers. Your muscles need time to repair/build after lifting.
2. Rest days help prevent injury. Overuse injuries are a real thing. Rest days help prevent these types of injury, especially in those who are doing repetitive motions like running, walking, cycling, or using the elliptical.
3. Overtraining (not resting) can mess up your sleep. Too much exercise can make you restless which can make it tough to get a good nights sleep. Planned rest days can help prevent this.
4. Mental health. Not taking regular rest days can lead to burn out.
5. Protects you from illness. When you don't take adequate rest you don't allow your body to recover from training and that may affect your sleep. Those conditions can also affect your immune system which can put you at risk for illness.
The general rule of thumb is to take two rest days per week. Some people may need more, some people may need less. The important thing is to listen to your body. Monitoring your resting heart rate* upon waking in the morning is a great way to keep tabs on how your body is recovering. Once you know your average resting heart rate, get into the habit of checking it before getting out of bed in the morning. If your heart rate is consistently elevated or is elevated by more than 10-15 BPM, it may be an indication that you are need of an additional rest day or that you may be getting sick.
There have been a couple of times over the years where I've been guilty of not resting enough...of falling prey to the "no pain, no gain" mentality. I'm here to tell you, it's not worth it. There's a fine line between keeping consistency in your workouts and getting adequate rest. Use the tools available to you and don't underestimate your body's ability to tell you what's going on. You just have to learn how to listen.
*How to find your resting heart rate average: take your heart rate before getting out of bed for 5 days. Try not to do this on consecutive days, but maybe over a week or so. Once you have 5 days, add up and then divide by 5. This number is your average resting heart rate. You can take your heart rate by finding the pulse in your wrist or neck and counting for 15 seconds and then multiplying that number by 4. Or you can use a heart rate monitor (wrist or chest strap, if you want to sleep with it on) or phone app. I like the one called "Instant Heart Rate" by Azumio.