This post is sponsored by Wahl Wellness. All opinions are my own.
If you’re someone who has a hard time taking a rest day, you may think differently after reading this. While I respect your commitment, skipping your recovery is doing more harm than you think. I tell my classes and clients this all the time: recovery is the forgotten training variable and overtraining affects our bodies in multiple ways. In fact, “overtraining syndrome” can have effects both physiological and psychological. Not convinced yet? Here are six things that can happen when you don’t take a rest day.
You Become Irritable, Moody and Crabby
Overtraining leads to self-critical thinking: do you ever say to yourself, “I’m training my butt off but I’m getting worse not better!” Your energy goes down, your body suffers and you fall into an emotional, psychological downward spiral. YIKES! Let’s face it, when you are in a constant state of pain and soreness, you are irritable and your threshold for mental stress is decreased.
Related: 5 Signs You’re Exercising Too Much
You Get Injured
This is a no-brainer problem from overtraining. Overuse of the muscles, tendons and ligaments creates a constant state of inflammation in the body and the joints. The likelihood of injury is increased. And if you aren’t fueling properly after your workouts, you may be losing muscle mass not gaining.
Your Endocrine System Fatigues
When you constantly do high intensity exercise, you go into adrenal fatigue and your body starts over producing cortisol, exactly the opposite of what you want to happen. Exercise reduces cortisol until you overdo it. Too much high intensity exercise with no rest produces too much of that darn cortisol, otherwise known as the fat storing hormone.
Your Sleep Suffers
You may be physically tired but can’t fall asleep because your body is over-stressed. Growth hormone is responsible for helping to repair our muscle tissue and is produced in the deep REM cycle of sleep; if you are not getting good quality sleep, your muscles aren’t getting a chance to fully repair.
Your Immune System is Compromised
Can’t shake that cold? Maybe it’s because you are going too hard and your immune system can take several days to recover just like your muscles. Increased cortisol, as mentioned above, as well as adrenaline suppress the immune system and research shows that 90 minutes of high-intensity exercise can make you more susceptible to illness for up to 72 hours afterward.
Your Performance Suffers
Going hard in an intense workout every single day is difficult for anyone. Not only can you get bored of your routine, but your body can also lose its ability to function at its optimal rate. Meaning rather than taking a rest day and coming back hard the next day, your performance will suffer in each workout until you give yourself a breather.
Want to steer clear of all these problems? Well, it’s easy: just take a rest day! Here’s how to make the most out of your rest days:
Massage sore muscles.
After packing in several sweat sessions in a row, you’ll likely have a few sore muscles. Use your rest day to give yourself some needed TLC with an at-home massage. In addition to reliving tension, massage can help reduce pain, decrease swelling and improve blood circulation to promote the healing of soft-tissue damage, bruising and muscle fatigue. It also helps improve flexibility and mobility faster, while reducing overall stiffness. The Wahl Deep Knead Massage Wrap is my go-to when it comes to muscle care (and it’s much cheaper than continued visits to a massage therapist). The massager offers both heat therapy which increases blood flow and loosen muscles, while shiatsu massage therapy relieves muscle tension and soreness. Plus, it works for some of the more common tight spots: your neck, shoulders, back, legs and calves. I also love that it’s a completely natural treatment option, since if you’re like me, you’ll need it often due to nagging aches and pains from aging and use.
Strive for “Active” Recovery
As for taking a recovery day, you don’t have to sit around on your butt all day. Instead, strive for an active recovery day. Do some gentle yoga, take a walk, or do some stretching. All of these activities will still give your body the break it needs and actually helps to loosen tight muscles and get that lactic acid buildup moving.
While hydrating every day is essential, pay special attention to hydrating on your rest day. It’s one of the best ways to help your body recover and maximize performance in your next workout. Consider this: in a living, moving body, skeletal muscle is more than 70 percent water which means in order to put healthy, functioning muscle on your body, you need to drink water. And because muscle burns more calories than fat at rest, when you add more muscle to your body, you burn more calories just going about your daily tasks. So, if you drink more water, you’ll be better able to increase muscle mass and therefore, burn calories.
So next time you pat yourself on the back for never missing a day of intense exercise, take a chill pill and give yourself a day off. You and your body deserve it.