Fitness is found through healthy habits and regular workout routines. But, go-go-go day-after-day can spell trouble. Without regular rest days over-training, repetitive use injuries and burnout can trash your best wellness efforts. The truth is, you need a day off.
In order for your muscles and your mind to recover, step away from your hardcore workouts once a week to give your overtaxed muscles and mind a break. Your body needs time for cellular repair. However, sitting with your feet on the ottoman for a Netflix ultra-marathon fest won’t get that job done. You need to do some mild to moderate activity to stay limber and get oxygenated rich blood flowing throughout your body.
Fortunately, You Have These 5 Options to Make Your Rest Day Count
1) Get Mobile!
Roll off the couch and onto a foam roller. Get out all the recovery tools you have. What? You don’t have any? Dig under your couch and find the tennis ball your dog sometimes fetches. That will work too. Rest days provide a good opportunity to employ self-myofascial release techniques to improve the function of your fascia and muscles. Rolling speeds muscle recovery and loosens connective tissue to enhance joint mobility and releases physical and mental tension. (Check out this intro video for tips.)
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2) Stretch Like You Mean It.
Do you like rest so much you wish you could stretch your two day weekends into three? Well, guess what- you can’t do that.However, you can improve the quality of your days off by using it to do some extra flexibility work. Whether you’re into yoga, stretching straps, PNF techniques or partner stretches, dedicating time on a rest day for stretching will speed your recovery and enhance for future fitness endeavors.
3) Move It Along, Buddy.
If you’re training for an endurance sport, save yourself the pain of repetitive use injuries and mix things up on your rest days. Consider cross-training that uses different muscles or modalities than you typically use to train. Walking, rowing, swimming, biking or a group exercise class might work for you if you are a runner, for example. Cross-training on a rest day should involve something that is different than what you’d do on a typical training day.
4) Play Time.
When was the last time you bowled, tossed a Frisbee, flew a kite or walked your dog? If you’re afraid you’ll get overly competitive if you step onto a playing field or court on a rest day, you could always put on a pair of jeans instead of spandex, so the inseam reminds you it’s for fun, not medals. Play and take a break from the rigors of training.
5) Eat Up.
Use the time to cook good food and feed your body the nutrients it needs. You might eat well every day. But, rest days are a great time to use your extra energy to explore new recipes and plan strategies to tackle the days ahead.