Rest Days: Why Are They Important When Training?

Physical exercise is necessary for our health, whether it be running, cycling, soccer, any sport will make you healthier and happier, but few people understand that over-training is not good for the body.

Giving yourself a rest day, even once a week, is much more complex than it appears to many. Every athlete focuses, of course, on the positive aspects of sport. They drive as many miles as it takes to get a lot of that positivity. However, very often the majority forgets that those many miles and exercises can also hurt, and are not conscious of the importance of rest. Here are some ways in which days of rest can be beneficial:

1) Helps You Improve

The fact is that the moments you keep your legs still are as important as the long runs in your schedule. You may think they weaken your body, but it’s the opposite. They also sharpen your concentration and help breathe new life into your mind, increasing your motivation to keep working out. You need it for recovery and healing. Every time after a run or any other exercise, your body needs time and space to adapt and become stronger.

2) Your Muscles Need Time to Repair

Running (or any other muscle-training exercise) creates tiny tears in your muscle fibers. The body dislikes that and tries to repair the damage. At the same time, it makes your muscles a little stronger, to get you ready for the next attack. However, this can only occur when the muscle is at rest. The body needs at least 36 to 48 hours to recover, depending on the duration and intensity of your workout. This is exactly why bodybuilders, who do strength training every day, train their legs one day and their arms the next. Unless you give your muscles enough time to recover, there is not enough chance to repair and strengthen them.

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3) Relax Your Brain

Yes, running is a way to get rid of stress. But each time you run, you are increasing the levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, in your body. Why? The body is not aware whether you are running from danger or whether you are running for fun.

When stress levels are chronically high, the cortisol pulse can cause mood problems, irritability, sleep problems, and various other health issues. Consider it a scale: if you exercise too much, the scale will shoot too far in the wrong direction. A couple of days of rest can bring your balance back.

4) Avoid Straining Your Tendons

Tendons are made up of connective tissue and connect muscles to bone, making them active as soon as the body moves. Nevertheless, they have poor blood circulation, so it takes longer for them to recover than tissues with greater vascularity (such as muscles). Without this additional time, repeated bumps and bruises from heavy exercise can cause chronic damage, such as overuse tendinitis. (You can add strengthening exercises to your training plan to strengthen weak tendons).

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5) Stress Fractures Stay at Bay

If you’re trying to keep injuries at bay (and who wouldn’t want that?), rest is the key. Running is excellent for bones – the pressure load on your bones during that activity increases cellular turnover and forces the bone to make stronger structures. But if you run day after day, you never have enough time to recover fully. Ultimately, you could end up with a stress fracture, which can keep you on the sidelines for a while.

You shouldn’t underestimate the importance of everything that happens outside of running. What you do in those other 23 hours of the day is just as crucial to becoming more resilient and stronger in the future.

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