The 4 Times it is Okay to Take a Rest Day


When your body is allowed to rest, muscles heal and grow, stress levels can lower and joints get a nice welcome rest. As a rule of thumb, aim to take at least one rest day a week. Of course, you can still incorporate movement these days…walking, yoga, swimming and Pilates are all great forms of exercise that don't place too much of a burden on the body.

But there are several times when you need to say no to intense exercise, and let your body rest.


When you’re sore Sometimes you may suffer from a little soreness, but other times you may experience more serious Delayed Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, otherwise known as DOMS.

DOMS doesn’t always kick in straight after exercise; in fact, it can be up to 24 to 72 hours after a workout that they rear their painful head.

DOMs come about from several micro-tears made in muscles; these micro-tears are created when you lift weights, or work the muscles hard, pushing them to their limit.


On days when DOMS are present, you might struggle to complete your usual exercise session due to extreme pain. So instead, try some foam rolling, stretching and mobility work. This will help your body recover quicker, allowing you to get back to exercise, fast! It’s also wise to maintain a good level of calories on your rest days; to recover, muscles need fuel! So don’t deplete them of good food.


When you’re very stressed

Work stress causing you to feel anxious? As exercise is a stressor itself, it could make the situation worse.

This only applies when you’re feeling stressed; minor stress can often be sorted with a good sweat session, whilst chronic, ongoing stress requires more rest.

It’s frightening what stress can do to the body; it can lead to illness and disease and disrupt a person’s mental health, so if you’re feeling as though your stress levels have become overwhelming, take a step back from exercise and practice some self-care.


When you’ve had a bad night’s sleep.

For a good workout, we need energy. How does our body acquire natural energy? Through good sleep of course! It’s during sleep that our body recovers and recuperates, preparing itself for the next day.


So without sleep, our body simply doesn’t have the energy to keep going. Plus, exhausting your body with a workout, when it’s not had enough sleep, will leave you with even less energy for other tasks in the day such as work and socialising. This then leaves you reaching for ‘fake’ energy such as caffeinated drinks and sugary foods, which then places you on a rollercoaster of energy ‘crashes’.


It’s a vicious cycle. Instead, take a day off from the gym, eat healthy foods that provide slow-releasing energy, and don’t push your body to its limits. Oh, and allow yourself to get a good sleep the following night!


When you’re ill

Feeling run down? Struggling with a cold or flu? Then it’s time to take a step back from exercise and take a rest day! If you want to recover quickly, then exhausting your body with a workout will not help. We all get ill from time to time; it’s a natural and normal occurrence. How we deal with it however can have an impact on how quickly we get better.


A general rule of thumb: if you feel ill from the neck down, such as with a body fever, as well as aches and pains, then don’t exercise. If you are suffering from a head cold and feel OK exercising, then lower the intensity and take it easy.


If you exercise in a gym, you might also want to reconsider, as it’s easy to pass on illness and put others at risk.


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