What’s a proper rest day in your fitness journey? Find out from an expert

Pushing yourself hard is important in fitness, but knowing when to rest and recover is equally important. Know about it from an expert.
Woman wiping off sweat during workout
Adopt new habits slowly and steadily. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Vijay Thakkar Updated: 21 Jan 2022, 05:10 pm IST
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Workout, rest, and nutrition intake should be in proper order and well-balanced for you to have a disease-free healthy lifestyle. If you are a sports enthusiast, and currently in the process of building strength, you would probably need more rest days than those who workout for weight loss or any other reasons.

Rest is not something which you take because you can’t workout on a particular day. It is the most vital part of any workout or lifestyle training programme because rest is the only factor that allows you to mitigate fatigue and exertion that can be caused due to the hormesis effect, which in simpler terms is the low doses of stress given to your body while continuously working out.

Stay fit and stay healthy along with proper rest. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Here you will understand the importance of rest and recovery days and the things you can do on a rest day to enjoy it without any guilt. Continue reading and stay motivated and consistent in your fitness journey!

Are rest days really important?

Yes. Any physical trainer you go to or a fitness coach you approach would probably design a workout schedule that will have at least one rest day between every 3 to 10 workout days. The number of rest days required depends on the intensity of the physical training you are undertaking, and the objective you wish to achieve by taking that particular fitness program.

Here are some of the hidden benefits of taking proper rest:

1. Key to consistency

You all might have experienced the importance of giving proper rest to your machines and vehicles to prevent overheating and burnouts. For example, any car, bike, or electronic gadgets might demand some rest time or charging time to give an optimum performance. Similarly, your body will demand rest amidst your workout sessions to be consistent in your journey. When you don’t rest properly, you might feel fatigue, pain, cramps, and ultimately lose motivation to do the last rep of your workout. Thus, to stay motivated and consistent in your journey, you will have to take proper rest days as instructed.

2. Rejuvenates and promotes muscle growth

When you start exercising suddenly, your body will be in a state of shock and studies have shown that regular exercising causes microscopic tears in your muscles. During your rest period, the cells called fibroblasts in your body will help in repairing these tears and make you ready for the next day’s workout. When muscles are repaired properly, they will be healthier and burn more calories easily even at rest. Rest days restore the carbohydrates in the form of glycogen, making you brisk and motivated for the next day.

Save your joints and muscles from wear and tear. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Reduces injury

You are highly at a risk of an injury during a workout when you are not properly monitored by a professional trainer. To avoid tissue or ligament tears, ensure that you consult with a proper trainer or coach alongside. Another major cause where you can experience workout injury is when you don’t take rest days between your workouts.

When you overdrive your car, it can lead to engine failure, heating, or even breakdown. Similarly, when the muscles are not repaired, it increases muscle fatigue, leads to soreness, and can even cause internal injuries. These workout injuries can both have long-term and short-term effects. Thus, rest is vital for a peaceful and hassle-free workout experience.

What can be termed as a proper rest day?

It is not a thumbrule that you should sit on your couch scrolling through your feed during your rest days. You can do less intense workouts, yoga asanas, meditation, listen to music, take sauna, a deep tissue massage, cold/ice bath, and indulge yourself in NEAT (Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis) like cleaning, cooking, shopping, playing with kids, etc.

You can follow your nutritious diet, stay hydrated, and be cautious on your protein intake as prescribed by your trainer. Most importantly, one should have slept well to stay motivated for the next workout day.


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Here are some tips you must follow to have a good night’s sleep.

1. Mobile – the biggest villain

Apart from making you addicted to social media by checking the last reply or comment on your newly posted photograph, the major problem with mobile phones and laptops is the blue light emitted from the screen. More than any other colour, blue light messes with your body’s ability to prepare for sleep because it blocks a hormone called melatonin that makes you sleepy. So, keep your gadgets away at least before 30 minutes of your bedtime and use dim lights to have a peaceful sleep.

2. Do not have heavy treats/coffee

Your body will take time to digest heavy foods such as cheese, maida, etc., and you will have disturbed sleep for that night. Caffeine blocks the melatonin hormone or the sleep hormone from being released in the brain. Also, it blocks adenosine reception to ensure that you stay alert. It injects adrenaline into the system and keeps you awake for a particular period. Thus, avoid having coffee or heavy meals after sunset.

Limit your coffee and tea intake to minimize your risk of nutreint deficiency. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Don’t take work to your bed:

Avoid thinking about work after going to bed. Do not send or read work emails during your bedtime. The urge to reply to every new email received commands you to think and derive a decision. Your brain stays active when you keep thinking, you will start planning the work for the next day, and the stress levels would likely increase. When this happens, your sleep cycle gets disturbed because of an improper rest day.

The last word

Your objective behind working out can be to lose weight, build muscle or recover from an injury. Regardless of the objective, rest is a significant part of your workout journey. Ensure to avoid overwork. Follow these simple yet effective tips and keep all the three legs of your tripod, namely the rest, nutrition, and workout in balance to lead a healthy lifestyle.

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About the Author

Vijay Thakkar, Fitness Entrepreneur and Functional Medicine Coach, Founder of 48 Fitness ...Read More

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