In order to achieve maximum benefit from all of the exercise we do, it’s important to incorporate weekly rest days. I know that when you have a really good workout rhythm going, it feels like ‘slacking’ to skip a day–but you’re doing your body good. When we engage in high intensity exercises, we tire our muscles out and are more susceptible to muscle soreness, injuries, difficulty sleeping and a major decrease in strength and performance.

It’s important to understand two things: when we’re training at the gym we’re not actually getting more fit right then and there. The body’s response to a really hard workout is a stimulus that elevates heart rate, breaks down muscle fibers and causes the adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline and cortisol. We actually get fit afterwards. When we eat, sleep, rest, our body is repairing tissue damage, restoring fuel, transporting oxygen, and in general making us stronger so that we can do it again. If we don’t give our bodies adequate time to recharge–it causes an imbalance.

“Days off” doesn’t translate to vegging out on the couch all day and not moving a muscle (although once in awhile, that’s okay too). Instead, skip your regular workout routine and enjoy an active rest day. This means doing something very moderate to simply move your body without exerting much energy or strength. This might vary depending what your regular exercise routine looks like, if you’re extremely active it’s wise to do some simple at-home stretches or take a long walk; if you’re moderately active you can do the same, and maybe even engage in a fun, new outdoor sport with friends. Read on to see why these active rest days are so essential…

Here are 5 Reasons Why It’s OK To Skip Your Workout:

  1. You Will Build Muscle. As mentioned above, it’s the time period after our workouts when we actually reap the benefits and build strength. We create small muscle tears that go through a repair process. If you have an extremely tough workout you might notice that sometimes you’re sore 2 to 3 days after, that’s because your muscles are still repairing and building on the #werk you did.
  2. You’ll Be More Energized. Listen to your body! Workouts should keep us energized all day, all week–but if you’re pushing yourself really hard, you might notice you’re extremely sluggish, sore and grumpy constantly. That’s not the purpose of exercise. Allow yourself guilt-free active rest days each week for 1 month and just notice how your energy levels and mood have shifted!
  3. You Won’t Burn Out. Life is all about balance. If you workout 7 days per week for 1-2 hours per day, you’re going to burn out–it’s just the way we’re built. Even Olympic athletes have rest days incorporated into their training schedules. You don’t want to burn out then either a) get injured, or b) mentally and emotionally crash. You need time to relax. If you burn out, you might stop working out for weeks at a time, when all you really needed was 1-2 days during the week to re-charge.
  4. You’ll Lose More Weight. Between having more energy and allowing your muscle to build, you are going to lose weight faster than if you trained for 7 days straight. On top of those two reasons, we eat more when we workout. By taking a rest day, you are naturally going to consume less calories because you won’t be burning so much energy in your workout.
  5. Enjoy More Free Time. Spend more time with your friends, read a book, watch the sunset, start a blog, make a breakfast bowl, do your laundry! It’s essential to schedule some “ME time” every week to do things that keep you sane, besides breaking a serious sweat.

Tell me how you feel after your active rest day in the comments below or on twitter @allgoodhealth_!

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