Exercise is an important aspect of maintaining a healthy, functional body, but there is also a time and place for letting ourselves rest.
Rest days can help boost your mental morale (think of how a Friday during a work week makes you feel). It’s also important physically to allow your body time to rest. Rest days allow your body to heal from muscle soreness (stress you also put on your joints), prevents fatigue and burnout and can help break through plateaus (having trouble PRing might be a sign you need to rest.)
When is your body telling you that you need to rest?
1. when you are stressed:
Exercise is normally a stress-reliever BUT it isn’t always especially if you are running around in all directions. This is an important time to really listen to your body. When you exercise, you’re working hard to raise your heart rate. This puts added stress on the body and can lead to your over exhaustion feeling. While I am not saying you shouldn't workout every time your stressed - because let's be honest we are always in some state of stress. On particularly stressful days, consider swapping intense workouts for those that help your body wind down and relax (yoga, meditation, walking, etc.). If you do find that exercising works for you as a stress release and you feel better afterwards, then go for it - REMEMBER just listen to your body.
2. you are sleep deprived:
BELIEVE ME as a mama of two young kids, it is exhausting. Not to mention disruptions in sleep patterns cause you to feel that energy drain. If you’re sleep deprived your body isn’t performing as highly as it could be. Exercising when you're running on empty also increases your risk of injury. I get it as a parent you are ALWAYS tired BUT there are times it is important to not push through that tiredness and again swap the intense workouts for those that help your body wind down and relax (yoga, meditation, walking, etc.). (DON'T USE THIS AS AN EXCUSE TO NOT WORKOUT ALTOGETHER!)
3. you are extremely sore:
Pushing through soreness and exercising, instead of giving your body adequate rest, can make you need more rest days potentially. Your body may take longer periods in order to heal (making the soreness feel like it lasts longer). It might also affect your ability to perform. I myself have noticed sometimes when I am really sore and I try to push through, my form is totally off which then leads to more discomfort. Again if you are extremely sore BUT can still swap that intense workout for those less intense workouts, then choose that option (mobility work, foam rolling, yoga, walking, etc.).
I find that people always say to me, "you are a personal trainer YOU MUST ALWAYS WORKOUT." Truth is over the years, and especially now having kids I have learned that listening to your body is an important part of the process. We have this idea sometimes at what a "perfect" workout plan is, but sometimes those plans need to be shifted in order for our bodies to recover so then we CAN push through and hit those workouts feeling strong and energized!
Meg DeSalvo Fit