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We are told to be active, to workout regularly or just go for a walk or just get any form of exercise regularly. Buddha said "To keep the body in good health is a duty…otherwise we shall not be able to keep the mind strong and clear." And we agree, having a healthy body is indeed a pathway to happiness but what we often forget is that whether you are training for a competition or just working out to stay in shape, being over enthusiastic about it is not the best thing. In fact, it does more harm than good.
Our reason for saying this is that more often than not people tend to forget the importance of rest and recovery after exercise. Rest days are just as important as workout days if not more. If we are being honest, your fitness regime is not complete without a rest day. Taking breaks and rest gives your body the time to repair and recover and helps in making progress. If you think skipping rest days can help you get fit then let us warn you, you are leading yourself towards a burnout. If you are still wondering why is it important to rest and recover after exercise then let's get some things clear.
Why is post workout recovery important?
We are hoping that you stayed active during the lockdown and had a training regime in place. We do understand that to enhance your fitness levels and to get better it's important to expose your body to various stress levels. But what's equally important is rest time after workout. Taking time to rest your body and letting your body repair and recover naturally might be mentally challenging but it has many physical benefits. Here are some benefits of taking rest days:
One of the benefits of rest and recovery after exercise is that it helps you stay safe when working out. If you overwork your body then you are likely to drop a weight or expose your muscles to excessive stress causing a muscle tear or you might just get out of form. All of this increases your risk of getting injured and would lead to you taking up more rest days than you were advised to, initially.
If you hear the term 'rest day' and the first thing that comes to your mind is being a couch potato then let's clear some myths. Rest day is not at all about being lazy. However, rest and recovery from exercise is important for muscle recovery and for your body to benefit from exercise. Your muscles also store carbohydrates in the form of glycogen and when you workout your body breaks it for energy. On rest days your body stores energy for the next workout.
What happens if you don't let muscles recover?
You need to understand that it is not while working out that your muscles grow. It is what happens when you rest between sessions. Working out especially when it comes to weightlifting can create micro tears in your muscles. So, if you don't give your muscles enough time to heal or recover then your muscles might feel inflamed and exhausted which can lead to a decrease in your performance and overtraining syndrome (OTS) which is really unpleasant. OTS can make you feel exhausted and cause terrible muscle and joint pains. These are some of the things that can happen if you don't let muscles recover.
What should I do on rest day?
You may have a love-hate relationship with rest day but that does not make it any less important and it's better to accept that you need them in order to let your body function better. There are plenty of things that you can do on rest days to make the most of them. Let's take a look at them:
Your body tells you things. All you have to do is listen and pay attention. On rest day take time to assess how you feel and what your body is telling you. Be it more sleep, having a combination of foods or light exercise do it for rest and recovery after exercise.
Physical and mental rest is important for your body to recover completely and be ready for the next workout session. You need 6-8 hours of sleep everyday. Make sure you get those and let your body recover naturally.
You already know that while working out, focusing on your diet is important but did you know that you need to eat right even during your rest time after workout? Limit your carbs on rest days and focus on proteins.