When you exercise, you put a lot of strain on your body. While it’s good to be physically active, your body also needs time to recover from that activity, especially if it’s strenuous. Here are six ways recovery days help your body.
1. Relaxation and Rest
Recovery days give your body and mind time to rest and relax. Relaxation is as important for your body and mind as exercise. Relaxation exercises like meditation and deep breathing can improve concentration and lower blood pressure, for example. Rest is also vital when you’re exercising a lot. Rest allows your body time to recover and heal the muscles you’re working on building or toning. You can also improve and expand on relaxation and rest with foods such as tea and CBD gummies, heat and gently stretching or massaging your muscles.
2. Reduced Injury Risk
Rest is a vital part of any exercise regimen because it reduces your risk of an exercise-related injury. If you’re well-rested, you’re more likely to be able to hold proper forms and move correctly through exercises. Not resting enough can cause you to drop equipment, fall out of alignment or move the wrong way, all of which can cause injuries. Additionally, you can cause repetitive strain injuries like tendonitis if you overtrain your body. Any injury can require you to rest for an extended period of time in order to heal, which can put you behind on your exercise goals.
3. Recovery Time
Rest is actually a vital step for muscle growth and tone. Exercise works your muscles to the point of exhaustion and uses up hundreds of calories, so whether you want to rest or not, you need time after you exercise to let your muscles recover and replenish your energy stores. Recovery days give your body time to heal from the stress your exercise caused, and in doing so, strengthen your body. Without recovery time, you’re more likely to be stuck in a calorie deficit and with sore, vulnerable muscles.
4. Improved Performance
Even if you never injured yourself, you would still benefit from recovery days. Your body knows when it’s had enough, and your performance can suffer after too many days without allowing yourself time to rest. Besides increasing your risk of injury, not giving your body time to recover also has other consequences. You may not mentally be able to make yourself start a workout or keep going at the pace you’re used to. You may also experience a decline in certain aspects of your performance, such as speed, agility, reaction times and endurance. It may seem counterintuitive on the surface, but recovery days actually help improve your energy levels and help your body keep up with a consistent exercise routine.
5. Better Sleep
Recovery days support better sleep as much as exercise does. If you exercise constantly, you’ll
build up too much adrenaline and cortisol, which can impair sleep. Taking a relaxation day can balance out these hormones, helping you sleep more deeply and restfully which in turn supports your energy levels, muscle health and cognition. Sleep can even help you exercise better. Quality sleep reduces the risk of headaches, grogginess and low mood, all of which can make you want to avoid physical activity.
6. Preventing Fatigued Muscles
Similar to reducing the risk of exercise-related injuries, recovery days help you avoid fatiguing your muscles. Exercise, especially muscle-building, is all about breaking down small muscle fibers and rebuilding them to strengthen them. You do this by fatiguing your muscles, but it’s vital you don’t overwork them. Recovery days help sustain and replenish your glycogen levels to keep your muscles functioning properly, especially in conjunction with a proper diet.
Remember, relaxation days don’t require you to sit around and be a couch potato. You can still be active. Just try taking a break from the gym once a week and go for a relaxing walk or do some gentle yoga instead. Your body will thank you.