Why Rest Days Are Important – Why Your Body and Mind Needs Them…

You’ve got yourself motivated and have started a regular workout routine, but after a week or so of continuous exercise you are feeling exhausted and that initial motivation is waning fast.

This is one of the main reasons why rest days are so important. Your body and your mind get fatigued whenever you put extra stress on them and exercise does just that so you need to take time to let yourself fully recover and recuperate.

Why Your Body and Mind Needs Rest Days

Did you realise that your muscles grow not during the time when you are exercising and pushing those weights in the gym, but on the days between you take to let your body rest and recover. This is another reason why it is important that you always make sure you plan these days into your weekly workout schedule.

Muscle Recovery

You know when you’ve spent a session in the gym working hard and performing all those squats to work on your legs and booty and feel great about your achievement. Then the next day you have trouble walking up the stairs or even getting off the loo that’s DOMS.

DOMS or Delayed onset muscle soreness is the name for that stiffness, tender muscles and reduced range of mobility that you feel 24 to 48 hours after any strenuous workout.

need rest days for muscle your muscles to recover after using weights

Strength training exercises break down the muscles resulting in very small tearing of the muscle fibres called micro–tears. Research has shown that it is these microscopic tears along with the inflammation that accompanies that that causes the lovely DOMS.

It is common after effect for any exercise that puts extra stress on your muscles and is part of the process that makes your muscles stronger and bigger. This is also why each muscle group that you work requires time to recuperate afterwards and the amount of time often depends on the individual but generally you should give the muscle at least 48 hrs to let it recover and rebuild itself.

Mind Recovery

Too much exercise can also put extra stress on you mentally as your energy stores get depleted resulting in your body going into a state of fatigue, so it is important to take time to just chill out and get your energy back. Also take this time to go over in your mind what you have already achieved and this will motivate you to get back to it when you are fighting fit again.

Getting enough sleep is vital as well as it during deep sleep that your body goes into a state of recovery. This is the time when it replenishes your brain cells, immune system and repairs your muscles, organs, tissues and bones.

Try and get at least 8 hours sleep a night, you may find you need more when you’ve had a hard work out, I know I often need about 9 hours some days to feel fully refreshed the next day. To get a good night’s sleep make sure you turn off all your electronic devices and don’t be watching television or using your smart phone in the bedroom.

Also if you can grab one a power-naps of 30-40 minutes during the day can also help rejuvenate you.

important to get enough sleep

How much Recovery time

How much time your body needs to recover depends on several factors such as your age, the type of exercise you are doing as well as any other general activities you might be performing during the day.

It can also depend on how good your nutrition intake is as well as everything else that is going on in your life, such as whether you are under stress at work and are you getting enough quality sleep.

Not taking enough time to let your body fully recover after strenuous exercise can lead to decreased performance, injury and elevated blood pressure as well as not being able to sleep properly at night, decreased immunity and lack of motivation to continue on your fitness journey.

Nutrition and Re-hydration

Make sure you are drinking plenty of water to re-hydrate your body including your brain and muscles; it will also help prevent post workout muscle cramps. Also you need to be eating a well balanced healthy diet and make sure you are consuming enough calories to help your body repair itself. proper nutrition is essential for recovery

Getting enough quality protein is essential to help rebuild the muscle tissue as well as fuel the bodies’ building blocks. Carbohydrate intake is also important as you need to refill your glycogen levels. Be sure to include some Potassium rich foods such as leafy greens as well, as this mineral can easily be lost through sweat and dehydration during exercise.

Also foods that are good sources of Vitamins C, E and Zinc – ( how to boost your immune system), along with Probiotics to help fuel the immune system. Don’t forget to include some antioxidants such as yummy blueberries and also things like Salmon which is full of Omega 3 oils which are anti-inflammatory oils and play a large part in your bodies fight to reduce inflammation.

Rest Days

Get into the habit of listening to your body and if you need a day off to just relax and do very little try and take one.

Depending on how feel and the amount of exercise you have done you yogamight want to have an active rest day where you just go for a leisurely walk or swim. Yoga, stretching and having a massage are also ideal activities to do as they will help stretch out your muscles therefore relieving tension and speeding up recovery.

So, when you plan your workout days and routines for the week make sure you include some days to rest and recover. Remember rest days are an important part of your healthy lifestyle as they allow your mind and body to fully recuperate.

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8 Responses

  1. Leo says:

    I like to do simple exercises or simply stretch and yoga during my rest days. Resting is inevitably for you to recover so that you can go further distance the following day. Sometimes it’s good to have that little break to reward yourself! But another thing is once I rest too many days I tend to get lazy afterwards lol.

    • Emma says:

      Hi Leo,

      Thanks for your comment and yes stretching or yoga is a great option for your recovery days. Try not to let your rest days turn into a ‘rest week’ though or you won’t see much progress 🙂

  2. JelenaBB says:

    Thank you for this detailed article. I’m a big fan of a healthy diet and regular training. I love honey and I even made a website about him. Excellent choice for recovery. I use a teaspoon of honey dissolved in a glass of lukewarm water with lemon, and I noticed my speed up metabolism and I have much more energy during the day, and that I better mood.
    One where I’m wrong, and I forget, this is how important a good long sleep. I often sleep less than 6 hours at night. Now you encouraged me to take a couple of nights and have a good night’s sleep. At least 8 hours.

    • Emma says:


      Thanks for your comment, yes it is important to try and get enough sleep to give our bodies time to fully recover.

      I too am a great fan of honey and its benefits and use it in a lot of my cooking. You may want to try my healthy flapjack recipe for a great snack idea.

  3. M. Gouldman says:

    Very informative post! In the past I have always pushed myself in the gym. without knowing much about the importance of recovery days. I was just so focused on losing weight that I worked out for ours and typically in consecutive days, but it makes so much sense to let your body recuperate after putting excessive stress on them.

    • Emma says:

      Hi there,

      Thank you for your comment, yes rest days do play an important part in our fitness routines. If you let your body fully recover between workouts you can see greater results.

      Even though you are on a weight loss journey, make sure you are also eating enough of the right foods to fuel your body. It is especially important to make sure you are getting enough protein in your diet. Good luck on your journey and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask…

  4. Indasa says:

    I’m currently in a program that includes two rest days. It was designed for busy moms, so I think the two days are for weekends. But, even after the weekends (I am a mom after all, so I’m still going hard), I still have some muscle soreness. Would you suggest another day of rest or some type of active recovery? I don’t want to sit too long or I will lose my momentum.

    • Emma says:

      Hi Indasa,

      It’s great that you are managing to workout regularly even though you are a busy mum. You may need to incorporate another rest day in your week and it does depend on the type of workouts you are doing and how bad the muscle soreness is. 

      Things you need to consider are if you are stretching properly after each workout as this will help your muscles to recover more quickly plus that you are eating the right foods to refuel your body properly.

      If you want to take an active rest day choosing an activity like swimming or yoga is a great way to help your muscles recover.

      If you let me know exactly what your workout consists of I can probably give you some more advice. 

      Good luck on your journey!

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