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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fitness: Why Rest and Recovery Days are so Important

Even if you're not training for a race it's easy to get obsessed with working out. When you start to see results you want to keep going and it's easy to overdo it. Working out too much does more harm than good for your body. It sounds crazy since exercise is so good for you, but if you workout too much you don't give your body a chance to adjust and repair. Every time we workout our body breaks down our muscles so they get stronger the next time. If you don't incorporate rest days your body can't repair these muscles and instead they become fatigued and overworked, eventually leading to burnout. 

You want to start an exercise program you can maintain for the long term. The moment you stop or lower your activity level, the pounds will start to creep on. Working out 5-7 days a week? That might not be realistic over the long term. Everyone is different but most people do best with 3-5 days a week of activity with active recovery and rest days in between. 

I've found that 4-5 days a week of moderate to intense workouts work best for me and my schedule. I try to do 3-4 days with some form of cardio and 2-3 days of weight training. This combination might not work best for you so play around with numbers and see how your body responds. I need at least two rest days a week to get the most out of my workouts and can't do too much cardio or I'm always hungry and my energy is drained. 

On my rest days I make sure to still move and stretch since I sit at a desk all day for my day job. I'll walk for 30 minutes on the treadmill during lunch or make sure to do some yoga poses when I get home after work. I really try to listen to my body. Somedays I really need to just do nothing and be lazy and that's okay too. You have to treat your body right or overtime you'll completely burn out and have to start from scratch. 

So, as much as you might want to keep going, make sure to take some time off and let your body rest. You'll be doing yourself a ton of good and it will keep you strong in the long term.

How many rest and active recovery days do you schedule each week? What types of workouts do you schedule in your routine? 

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