Staying active and healthy comes from regular exercise but how much exercise does one need to achieve fitness goals depends on many factors. No matter what you are aiming at in terms of fitness, too much exercise isn’t always a good approach.

Your body needs rest and that is why it is very important to have rest days in your workout routine. It is just as important as exercise itself. To achieve best possible results from your workout efforts, you need to find an effective workout to rest-day ratio. Not only will it allow your body to recover from exertion, but it will also help you to reach your fitness goals much faster.

Recover and repair is a critical part of progress towards a healthy and fit body and rest days is the best way to provide your body with this opportunity regardless of your fitness level or sport.

What is a rest-day? Well, as its name implies, a rest-day is your day off from exercise, so you don’t do any kind of exercise on your rest-day and let your body and mind recover. It is a way of allowing your body to heal from wear and tear caused by daily exercise and at the same time letting your mind refresh as you might be bored from the same repeated exercise routine.

It is important that you rest on your day-off or if you are too much into fitness, on your day-off you can do lighter exercise activities to include active recovery.

A rest-day consolidates all the efforts you have done throughout the week. Keeping your body in constant workout without any breaks will make your body adjust to the demands of your workout and eventually make your exercise routine boring and you might end up de-motivated.

Some of the benefits of rest days in workout routine are:

Allows time for recovery: Contrary to what you might think, a rest day isn’t about hitting the couch for the whole day and watching TV. You can still do things that you normally do every day except for your exercise routine. You can go out shopping, visit friends and even have a short walk down the street with your partner. The beneficial effects of exercise take place during this time. Your muscle growth and strength increase specifically during rest days.

Your muscle tissues wear out during exercise and this wear and tear can be more if you are following an extensive training program in your workout routines such as power or resistance training and that is why you need to let your muscle tissues recover. Rest day helps the tissue heal and grow, resulting in stronger muscles.

Prevents fatigue: One of the benefits of rest days is it keeps you away from exercise-induced fatigue. Remember, when you do exercise, your muscles burn energy which comes from muscles’ glycogen levels. Continuous burning of glycogensinduces muscle fatigue and soreness. Rest days allow repleting these energy stores in your muscles. Your muscles need energy to function even when you’re not doing exercise. By resting, you will prevent muscle fatigue and let your glycogen stores refill.

Reduces risk of injury: Following a regular workout routine brings many risks with it such as the risk of injury and rest is a way of staying away from injuries during exercise. Too much exercise or overtraining puts a lot of pressure on your body, especially muscles, which can likely lead to falling out of form, drop weight, or even chronic injuries. Rest between workouts is vital to recovery. It’s harder for your body to heal when too much stress is placed on it.

Improves performance: Rest days improve your performance both in everyday physical tasks and your daily workout routine. When you do not rest enough, your body is losing its performance capacity. Without letting your body, heal and recover from a continuous workout, it will become hard for you to follow your fitness goals. Your physical performance will deplete over time so that so you might be less motivated to do an extra rep or run another mile. Pushing yourself and overtraining will kill your performance and you may experience reduced endurance, slow reaction times, and poor agility. Making rest days part of your workout routine will increase your performance by improving your muscle strength, endurance and your motivation towards your health-related goals.

Supports healthy sleep: Having a good sleep has many benefits on its own. Good sleep keeps you healthy, reduces stress and fatigue, improves your memory and even helps you lose weight. Where regular exercise improves your sleep, rest days can also help in achieving sleep-related benefits. Overtraining can cause insomnia, disrupted sleep, or poor sleep quality. If you are not providing enough rest to your body, you’ll have a hard time getting quality sleep, which will contribute to increased fatigue and exhaustion.

How to mix up rest days with workout 

Your rest days to workout ratio entirely depend on you as every individual’s body react differently to workouts and rest. However, there are general guidelines for incorporating rest days in various workouts depending on the type of workouts you are doing, training intensity of workouts, how long you have been training for and other lifestyle related factors other than your fitness life.

For routine cardio, typically, rest days aren’t necessary. Everyday activities like a leisurely walk or work-related tasks which require walking are also safe enough to do every day unless your doctor says otherwise. But if you’re doing cardio in the gym at moderate or vigorous levels for fitness-related goals, rest days are essential. It is good to take a rest day after every three to five days of vigorous cardio. For extensive aerobic exercises, you can have an active rest day, which means doing a light workout such as gentle stretching.

Although running is considered a form of cardio, it’s different from walking on a treadmill at a normal pace and you need rest days if running is part of your everyday workout program. At beginner’s level, running three days in a week and having rest on remaining days is ideal. Once your body gets used to it and you feel comfortable, you can increase workout days and reduce rest days accordingly. Similarly, for professional athletes, rest days are even more important.

Your body responds to cardiovascular exercise and weight training in entirely different ways. Weight training is more focused on muscles and hence having rest days is mandatory if you are doing weight training. One of the best ways of incorporating rest days in weight training is to rotate the muscles being worked on. This approach means that you are hitting different muscles or different body areas if you are exercising on consecutive days. It is important to let your muscles recover if you have worked on them on two or three consecutive days. Shift to other muscles in order to allow healing time for the ones you have already worked on. 

For weight lose training, it is still important to have rest days. As earlier explained that rest allows muscles to heal, rebuild tissue, and grow its strength. This regeneration comes from burning calories. When you allow your body to rest it is burning fat which contributes to weight loss.

Things to do on your rest day

The aim behind having a rest day is not solely about letting your body rest but also letting your mind refresh. A fresh mind and soul are always better in motivational level and performance capacity. Plan your rest day ahead of the day itself. Try to indulge yourself in activities which give you pleasure. Doing so will ease stress off your mind and you will feel refreshed and prepared for the days to follow.

You can stay active even on your rest day and that is exactly what you must aim at instead of tucking yourself in the comfy couch and spending the whole day in front of the TV. Go out shopping with friends and family; plan a football game with your buddies if you like. It’s also important to eat well on your rest day as your healing muscles require energy. Plan a dinner out in a restaurant which will let you refresh with the tasty and healthy food as well as the ambience around you.

One of the best things you can do on a rest day is Yoga. It helps you feel calm and relaxed and doesn’t require a lot of time to perform. 10 to 15 minutes of yoga session will refresh you. Similarly, swimming is another activity which eases your muscle tension and also refreshes your mind.

Whether you’re a beginner or a professional athlete, rest days are crucial for your body. You cannot achieve what you are aiming at if you do not let yourself heal in terms of both your body and mind. Remember, overdoing exercise without any breaks is less likely to take you to success in achieving your health and fitness goals.