Take a Break from the Weights!
Earlier this week, I offered some cardio guidelines to help beginners get their heart rates going. Now that we’ve made it to another Friday, I thought talking about the importance of letting the body rest and recover was a good way to head into the weekend.
Whatever your fitness focus – running, weight training, participating in group exercise classes – rest is an essential component of your exercise routine. If you don’t allow your body to rest and recover, you’re simply putting yourself at risk for overtraining. That can lead to a gamut of problems including injury and overall fatigue. AFAA’s Fitness: Theory & Practice (Fifth Edition) describes the following as symptoms of overtraining:
- Amenorrhea (when a woman stops getting her monthly period)
- Overuse or stress-related injuries (e.g. stress fractures, tennis elbow and runner’s knee)
- Increased resting heart rate
- Slower recovery of heart rate
- Decrease in strength performance
- Constant muscle pain or soreness when moving, bordering on pain
Avoiding these symptoms doesn’t have to be difficult. Just give yourself a break now and then! A rest day allows for muscular repair and recovery of the central nervous system. I always give myself at least one day off from the gym every week. For those of you who can’t imagine even one day without activity, you can still take a leisurely walk or bike ride, or maybe you can substitute that strength or cardio class with an extra-long session of stretching.
On the other hand, if you want to enjoy a rest day curled up on the couch in your kick-around clothes reading a good book or catching up with your DVR, go for it! Remember, taking a rest day doesn’t mean you’re being lazy. It only means you’re giving your body the strength to get back in the game so you can have fun, be fit and feel fabulous!
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