Top 5 Benefits of Rest Days!

Overtraining is a common problem amongst athletes and recreational sports people. Exercising can be addictive, with many people putting more stress on their body than it can handle, in the hope of achieving their athletic goals; many people will recognise the signs of overtraining. The importance of understanding and implementing rest and recovery can’t be overemphasised. Find out more about this interesting subject in our Top 5 Benefits of Rest Days!

1. Improved sleep
Overtraining can put your body in a constant state of restlessness or on high alert making it difficult to get a good night’s sleep. A strong indicator of this is an increase in your resting heart rate. Taking rest days can help bring down your alertness and heart rate, which can help you get a sound night’s sleep. In turn, lack of quality sleep can lead to a rapid loss of energy when you need it, irritability, lack of focus and other psychological issues making it difficult to get the most out of your training.

2. Injury prevention
Lack of rest days put your body under increased strain, heightening your risk of injury. High-impact sports, for example, running, put stress on your joints to a level where your muscles can tighten and your bones crack. When you don’t take a day off when required, your tight calf muscles or tendons can lead to bone spurs, shin splints, muscle tears and other physical problems.

3. Encourage muscle growth
The two main factors in how well your muscles are repaired after training are rest and nutrition. After you train, your body repairs or replaces damaged muscle fibers and this occurs during rest as opposed to during training which stimulates your motor system. If you do not provide your body with adequate rest and nutrition, you can actually reverse the anabolic process and put your body into a catabolic or destructive state, short-circuiting the gains you’ve been working so hard for!

4. Improve mental health
Overtraining can often lead to psychological problems in addition to the physical issues mentioned. Due to the stress put on your hormones, lack of rest days often lead to mood changes including depression, crankiness, anxiousness and reduced motivation. Research suggests psychological changes are likely due to a combination of the external stress of trying to achieve a particular athletic goal along with neurotransmitter changes. Adding relaxation techniques such as meditation will help you make the most of your rest days.

5. Improve performance
Everyone has an ‘off day’ in their training every so often, but when mental and physical issues are occurring on a more regular basis and your performance suffers, that’s a clear sign of overtraining and rest and/or a change in training methods is required. Tracking and documenting your training can be extremely useful in understanding how much recovery and rest time your body requires on your particular training program.

Self-awareness and education is key to understanding your own rest, recovery and overtraining. It’s essential to understand the needs of your body and mind to recover from training whilst recognising the signs of physical and mental stress. Of course, you should want to keep striving to achieve your training or sporting goals but it’s important to remember that without effective rest and recovery, it’ll be virtually impossible to reach your intended high potential. Got something to say about rest and recovery? Let us know below or @KeepfitKingdom !

Jonathan Brooke

Jonathan is a professional senior tennis coach and qualified SAQ (Speed Agility Quickness) trainer. As well as tennis, he enjoys swimming, running and strength conditioning and has a strong interest in how nutrition and mentality can help you achieve your health and fitness goals. Having struggled with injuries throughout his career, he now spends less time on court and more time on how to lead a healthier and happier life!

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