Discover the importance of keeping a day off from your exercise routine

After a sedentary season, the first days of training require a lot of motivation and energy. But a few weeks later, when the body gets used to it and we have been constant, we feel the need to maintain the state on a daily basis. It is here that we must set aside a day off in the exercise routine.

Physical activity improves health in many ways. Not only does it regulate fat levels and help preserve the figure, but it also strengthens the body against diseases, reduces the chances of suffering from depression and stress, gives a feeling of energy and vitality, among many other benefits.

What happens in the body when you don't rest?

If we don't keep a day off from the exercise routine, the body is likely not getting enough rest. What would happen then? The following are some of the consequences:

  • You make yourself more vulnerable to injury due to muscle fatigue that is related to very short recovery times.
  • Persistent pains appear which indicate that the body has not recovered from previous workouts.
  • There is a feeling of chronic fatigue, as a sign that it is necessary to rest.
  • We have emotional changes and lack of motivation due to the hormonal imbalance of serotonin and cortisol that occurs when there is physical exhaustion.
  • We have trouble sleeping by the same high levels of cortisol and adrenaline.

These symptoms are also part of the overtraining syndrome, a consequence of exercise programs that do not include muscle regeneration times.

Overload caused by lack of rest during exercise increases the risk of injury.

Keep reading: Training to burn body fat

What benefits does a day off from the exercise routine bring?

Take a day off from your exercise routine allows to obtain benefits that are key to not injuring ourselves. In the same way, the recovery becomes more evident, especially if we are preparing for a specific objective, such as a one-off race.

You give time to recovery and adaptation

When you exercise and build muscle strength, microscopic tears occur in muscle tissues. During rest periods, muscles repair themselves, they grow and get stronger.

Adaptation happens when your body adapts to the demands of the sport you do; increases your vital power and your aerobic capacity and response. But for this to happen, the training must alternate periods of work with others of breaks.

You reduce the risk of injury

Thanks to the body strengthening that occurs on days off you become less prone to injury during exercise routines. This is very important if we do not want to have long-term complications.

You avoid muscle fatigue

Muscle fatigue occurs when phosphocreatine and glycogen levels are depleted. The latter is needed by the muscles to function, even when we are not exercising. If the reserves are not replaced, you experience pain.

Getting enough rest will prevent fatigue by allowing glycogen and phosphates, as well as energy and fuel stores, to replenish. This is evidenced by an article published in Apunts. L’Esport medicine.

So should I stop exercising one day a week?

It is not necessary. During breaks you can also perform moderate intensity or low impact exercises, thereby promoting active muscle rest. Here are some ideas:

  • Hikes and walks: Walking helps you strengthen your breathing muscles and improve your ability to deliver oxygen to your lungs.
  • Dance: When you dance, you work on coordination, pump blood and burn calories.
  • Yoga: improves body awareness, breathing and flexibility.
  • Bicycling: If you do it casually and without great effort (climbing slopes, for example) it will help you strengthen your knees and carry out cardiovascular exercise.

Discover: Going for a walk: 8 reasons to do it

Should it only be one day off a week from your exercise routine?

Depending on your physical condition, experience and the type of exercise you do, you will require a different number of days off in your exercise routine.

If, for example, you do only low-impact activities, such as those mentioned above (yoga, dancing, walking), it is sure to be every day. However, it is preferable that you consult your doctor to evaluate the specific conditions.

If you do intense cardio activities, like running, and you're just starting out, it's best to train only three days a week with active rest days in between. When your goal is weight loss, rest 2 or 3 days a week.

As for lifting weights, less experienced people require more days off. Beginners only come to a full recovery after two consecutive days of rest, and their training should consist of a routine of 2 or 3 exercise sessions per week.

The effortless, steep bike is an excellent option for active rest.

Other tips to recover in the best way

On your day off you will spend fewer calories, so it is important that you pay attention to the feeling of fullness. It is normal that you feel less hungry.

Anyway, eat enough protein. These will help you in muscle recovery. Also eat complex carbohydrates to restore glycogen levels if you come from strenuous activities. At the same time, drink enough water.

Sleep well. These days off will allow you to rest better at night and, therefore, exercise with more power in the subsequent days. The mind must also rest, so different activities are suggested (watching a movie, going for a walk, visiting family).

Forget the idea that resting from your workouts will cause you to lose muscle tone or stamina that you have achieved. Keep in mind that giving yourself a day off from your exercise routine will bring you closer, contrary to what you assume, to achieving your goals.