Getting into the habit of exercising every day is a great tool when trying to adopt a healthy lifestyle, change your body, and take charge of your life. But taking scheduled breaks from the gym can be just as important as getting a workout. Forgoing your training session might feel like slacking off, but you are giving your mind and body time to recover, and your muscles a chance to grow. Without breaks, your body is more susceptible to injury, muscle soreness, immune system problems, and sleep disturbances. Plus, taking a scheduled training break will get your feeling excited about starting up again the next day.
The problem that can arise with rest days is they can easily turn into cheat days and cause a loss of momentum. Sitting on the couch during the time of the day you usually exercise might lead to the temptations of snacks and beer, and steer you off course. Don’t get discouraged — you can turn your rest days into a proactive part of your fitness goals by incorporating healthy activities rather sitting around. If you tend to lose momentum on rest days, block off a similar amount of time to work on yourself in other ways.
Flexibility is easily overlooked when the focus is on losing weight or gaining muscle. Don’t let this happen! Mobility and flexibility are crucial parts of physical fitness because they increase the range of motion and allow you to move without compensated motion, which leads to overuse injury. Other benefits of flexibility include reduced back pain, improved muscle coordination, improved posture, and an enhanced enjoyment of physical activity. Rest days are the perfect time to incorporate stretching or even some simple yoga.
It’s probably been a long time since you’ve played ping-pong with your buddies, right? What about that romantic stroll your partner has been bugging you to take? Fun activities mean different things to everyone, but we can all agree they bring us joy and a chance to move our bodies. Try golfing, going for a swim, tossing around the ball, or anything low-impact that gets you moving and smiling. When an activity is fun we are more likely to stick with it, so when you’re not working hard at the gym, get out and do something fun with the people you love.
Break a Mental Sweat
The days we give our muscles a break are great days to give our brains a workout. Turn off the TV and enhance your mental power with activities that challenge your brain. Boost your thinking and vocabulary skills by picking up a good book. Do a crossword puzzle or play sudoku. Learn how to play chess. You can even get smarter by playing puzzle video games like Scribblenauts or even Zelda. Video games that make you solve puzzles are like a cardio workout for the brain. Become a better problem solver, more creative, and a faster thinker on your rest days by challenging your mind.
Get in the habit of making your workout recovery time just as important as your workouts, and you’ll find it just as rewarding. Sticking to a schedule of working on yourself – in or out of the gym – will help you stay motivated, have fun, and reach your fitness goals faster.