We have talked about how to get started with a fitness routine; now we need to discuss the importance of rest. For some, this is not an issue. But for others this is a big issue that we may not even know is an issue.
When we get into a fitness routine and start seeing results, it is very easy to slip into a cycle of refusing to rest. We feel if we skip a day, we will miss out on results. Or we want to squeeze in as many workouts as possible because we feel the more workouts, the more results we will see.
The truth is once we begin a fitness routine rest is crucial. The process of exercising includes the tearing down of muscle fibers so that they can be rebuilt stronger. And that rebuilding process happens while our body is resting. Our bodies need that time of rest so that we can recover, repair, and rebuild those fatigued muscles.
When it comes to battling with rest, there are a few areas that need to be worked on. The first is making sure you are taking at least one rest day a week. This means do not work out on that day. You will hear of people taking “active rest” days where they do yoga or go for a jog. This is not rest. Light stretching, a massage, or rolling out sore muscles is the extent of what you should be doing on a rest day. (Keep in mind this is a general guideline. People who are weight training may choose to rest certain muscle groups on certain days instead of taking a full rest day.)
We also need adequate sleep at night. When we sleep, our bodies are also recovering and repairing. Again, for some this is a struggle. You have always heard eight hours a night is adequate, and when in a workout routine this is also true. Some of us are night owls and some suffer from insomnia, but we have to make sure our bodies get adequate rest. Here are some tips to getting better rest at night. Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day. Minimize napping. Avoid bright screens at least one hour before bedtime. Try to sleep with the room completely dark. Do not exercise too close to bedtime. Also, do not eat dinner within 2 hours of bedtime. If you still find you cannot get to enough sleep or stay asleep all night, try to make sure you are at least relaxing during those hours that you should be sleeping. Do not get up and work. Lay quietly. Read a book. Meditate. Do something that you find relaxing.
Above all, listen to your body. If you find it hard to get through your workouts because your muscles are constantly sore and tight, you should add in a rest day. If you’re drinking coffee all day long, fighting to stay awake, not finding enough energy to keep going throughout the day, you need to make sure you are getting more rest at night. Your body will always let you know when you need to add more rest into your routine.