Instagram shots of some seriously fit folks have plenty of people taking their workouts a bit more seriously. While this desire to stay svelte might encourage you to kick your fitness routine into high-gear, it’s easy to take things too far. Working yourself to exhaustion at the gym every day means you’re at risk for over-training, and it can take a toll on your body. Men’s Fitness explains working out too intensely can lead to constant muscle soreness, unquenchable thirst, and an altered resting heart rate. Trust us, looking great isn’t going to matter if you’re too wiped to even don your swim trunks.
As surprising as it might sound, spending a little bit of time away from the weight room or treadmill is one of the best things you can do for your body. You’ll feel less tired overall; plus, regularly taking a day to recover actually does a lot for your health. If you’re feeling run down, a little rest could benefit you in five different ways. So take a break. Your body will thank you.
1. Reduce risk of injury
Performing strenuous workouts every day might get you in shape initially, but you could soon find yourself suffering from some painful problems. Wellbridge explains exercising puts more strain on nearly every part of your body. The article reads, “Our immune system is activated when there are muscle tears or joint strains, but if the body doesn’t come out of continual practice, it doesn’t have the time to catch up and start patching everything back up.” So even if you’re just experiencing some sort of mild strain, continuing to work through the discomfort could lead to a much bigger injury down the road, like stress fractures, according to The Active Times. And those types of serious ailments are going to require a lot more time off than if you had just taken a break every so often.
Even for exercise veterans, a day or two per week might not be enough. If you’re involved in a seasonal sport or activity, longer periods of rest should be a regular part of your routine. Verywell says good training programs incorporate rest periods into an annual cycle where athletes will perform activities that aren’t as intense. Since professionals take some downtime during their offseason, you should, too.
2. Better results
When preparing for a competition, there’s nothing worse than finding your progress has flat-lined. The natural response might be to amp up the intensity of your program, but pushing yourself harder could make your performance suffer even more. Runner’s World says constantly exhausting yourself doesn’t allow your body to adapt to the stress, so you won’t be able to get faster or stronger. Continuing to train without allotting for proper rest means your performance will continue to decline.
The same is true for those seeking to bulk up. One article from Bodybuilding.com highlights the importance of taking days off, because you’ll return to the gym able to handle more weight, reps, and sets. In fact, it’s the rest period that actually makes you stronger. According to Livestrong, lifting weights leads to fiber breakdown within your muscles while periods of rest allow those fibers to repair. You won’t see results if you’re constantly breaking down your body.