Exercise is a key component to living a healthy lifestyle. It has the ability to give you more energy, aid in weight loss and help prevent disease. But exercising without taking rest days can be detrimental to your overall progress, and may even cause injury or burnout. Experts preach incorporating recovery periods into training regimens for optimal performance and progress. According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE) it is during these recovery periods that our bodies experience the tissue regeneration and nutrient replenishment that is so crucial to long-term success. The American College of Sports Medicine explains that recovery is especially important for muscle repair since tiny tears occur during training. While these tears create muscle growth, they also require a period of healing. These recovery periods include rest, proper nutrition, adequate sleep and periods of light activity.
So instead of exercising like the energizer bunny, find a healthy balance of both physical activity and recovery—the essentials of a fit lifestyle. Follow your intuition, listen to your body and look for these signs and symptoms that you deserve a day off, pronto:
Exhaustion has set in. Exercise is meant to give you energy. Sure, fatigue is normal after a workout but chronic fatigue that clouds your daily functioning is a sure sign that you may be hitting the mats too hard without allowing your body time to recoup and re-energize from your last sweat session.
You’ve hit a plateau. One of the best things about working out is seeing your progress from session to session. Overexercising depletes your ability to improve due to a lack of energy and proper nutrients. This could affect your endurance, strength and coordination. When you are no longer climbing that mountain of success but sitting still on the plateau of stagnation, take a time-out.
Dread. Physical activity should be rewarding. If you catch yourself dreading a routine that you used to enjoy, you may be partaking to an obsessive degree. Not to mention, too much of one activity will reduce its effectiveness and diminish results. To avoid movement monotony, switch up your routine, try something new, and take time off for mental and physical restoration.
Pain’s the name of the game. If you can’t seem to bounce back from a workout, chances are you over-exerted yourself to an unhealthy degree that may include damage to your muscles or joint pain. ACE explains that exercise should challenge you and create a level of mild soreness; it should not induce pain and take you out of commission for several days. That’s why it’s so important to progress incrementally and not take on too much when your body isn’t physically prepared.