How long should I rest for?
It depends on how heavily you work out. If you’re exercising at a really high intensity, then rest is almost more important than the amount of training you do because you really need that time-out to ward off any muscle damage.
Microscopic tears occur in your muscles when you exercise (which sounds frightening but is totally normal) and rest is essential to help them repair and grow.
As a general rule, I’ve found that a good 24 hours of rest and recovery in between workouts is enough to refresh your body. Aim for at least 1 day per week off for a break and add an active recovery day in like our Athletix RELEASE Class on Fridays.
Just don’t go too far the other way and rest for too long either – it takes a long time to get fit, but the transition to being unfit is sadly much quicker. While one or two days off your workout regime won’t have a negative effect on your fitness levels, five or more in a row means that you’re far more likely to feel sluggish next time you find the energy to put your Nikes back on.
What makes a good rest day?
A rest day doesn’t mean you have to lie on the couch for 24 hours. Some people relax with gentle activity – some stretching, massage, a long walk, or a yoga class can all help.
But most importantly, drink plenty of water and get a decent night’s sleep – they will both do wonders for rebooting your energy.
And remember, it’s not just your body that needs to rest, but your mind, too – especially if you’re on a strict food and exercise regime. Cut yourself a bit of slack – if you’re on a diet, then use your rest day as a treat day. I’m not saying go mad and ruin all your hard work, just let your hair down a bit.
Should I rest for longer if I don’t feel well?
It depends on your symptoms. Getting sick is often your body’s way of telling you that it needs some time out.
As a general rule, symptoms above your neck mean you’re fine to continue exercising, but anything below should mean an extra day off. If you’ve got a cold that’s gone to your chest, you should ease off exercise because it could put your body under too much stress. Whereas if it’s just a head cold you should be fine to hit it as normal.
Obviously the type of exercise you do is key, so choose wisely – swimming isn’t advisable if you’ve got a cold, but could be just what you need if you’ve got PMS. In fact, in some cases – such as a headache or period pain – a blast of exercise can do wonders.