By Juliet Kaska
Not showing up is an important part of your health, success, and wellbeing in a workout program. Yes, you did read that correctly, it was NOT a typo. Don’t get me wrong you must first show up and show up regularly to get to the point of intentionally not showing up.
I am talking about rest days.
What Exactly Is a Rest Day?
A rest day is an important and integral part of any workout program. When we first start a program there is strong emphasis on staying committed, not missing days, and showing up. It can occur like a constant battle of willpower and what seems like valid excuses. During this phase there is less talk about intentional scheduling off days. Let me be clear, the rest day is important at all phases of a workout program, but they are crucial when you have become the type of person who works out daily. The most common injury for these folks, no matter if they are a beginner or a pro, is stress injury.
What Are Stress Injuries?
Stress Injuries are caused by overtraining, which can be doing too much, too heavy, too long, or too many consecutive days can and will most likely lead to injury. Initially these injuries will occur as stress injuries, such as; tendonitis, bursitis, carpal tunnel syndrome, epicondylitis. Which will require rest for 2-6 weeks, possibly physical therapy, and anti-inflammatory medication. If not treated, and over training schedule is not adjusted, more serious injuries can occur, such as torn rotator cuff, nerve impingement, nerve damage, torn or pulled muscles, ligaments and/or tendons, and broken bones. All of which will require longer periods of rest, possible surgery and pain management. In both scenarios you will be kicked off your program schedule and further away from your goals. No Bueno! Take a rest day.
Importance of Rest Days and Strength Building
In addition to rest days helping to stave off injuries, a rest day also helps you to grow strong. Yes, once again that was NOT a typo. Rest can actually help you gain strength. Exercise is the act of causing stress on the body. This stress is needed in order to grow or maintain both bone & muscle strength. Without the stress we cannot gain strength. When we place this stress on the body, especially with higher intensity exercise our body needs to rest periodically. (Keep in mind for a novice exerciser, high intensity may be walking too much or too long on consecutive days). Exercise creates physical damage of small tears in the muscle fiber. The body’s act of healing these tears is when we gain our strength. The healing happens during recovery or rest periods. This does not mean you don’t have to refrain from all movement on rest day, just take it easy. Choose a lower impact activity like a light walk instead of a run, or a swim instead of lifting weights, or a Restorative Yoga instead of a Power Yoga.
Rest Days Can Even Improve Your Mental Health
When our routine is always the same we become stale and unmotivated mentally as well as physically. By taking a rest day we give our body and our mind a vacation which will help to rejuvenate us the following day. I personally find my best and most invigorating workouts are on the first day after a rest day. Give it a try, see if the same is true for you.
It Can Help Prevent Loss In Bone Density
Lastly, over training could lead to a loss of bone density. That was also NOT a typo. We have been told, and studies have proven that working out improves bone density. This remains true, but a 2017 study by Nigel Kurgan found that heavy, or over-training may cause a decrease in bone density. Kurgan wrote, “very intense training without adequate recovery period may lead to increased inflammation and subsequent bone resorption (loss)”. When an individual has a loss in bone density, they are more inclined to have bone fractures. This last one is more extreme and relates to those doing an intense advanced level training, but still important to keep it in mind as you continue on your health and fitness journey.
A rest day is an important part of a balanced workout program that will help to keep you safe, motivated and improve your overall strength and endurance. Think of this 1 day a week as your tropical vacation for your muscles. When you get “home” from your vaca you are rested and ready to take on the world again. You don’t lose something from a vacation you gain. Enjoy!
2017 study by Nigel Kurgan:
Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB). “Intense training without proper recovery may compromise bone health in elite rowers.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 25 April 2017. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/04/170425153814.htm>.
About the Author:
Juliet Kaska is one of the country’s leading celebrity trainers and health + wellness experts. In 2005, she opened Emerson Hall Fitness (EHF) in West Hollywood, CA, which quickly became the most sought-after boutique gym in the Los Angeles area. She then launched her brand JK Zen Fitness, with partnership locations throughout LA, and in 2010 opened the JK Fitness Pilates Studio. Juliet recently partnered with Vionic to create the Move for You program, a three-part series of 7 minute videos that get you moving with power and comfort. In addition to her celebrity clientele, Juliet is known for creating Hollywood’s favorite workout programs: The Bombshell Bride, Picture Perfect, The Red Carpet Workout, The Executive’s Workout and her most popular, Pilates Burn, a high-intensity workout combining Pilates reformer equipment, traditional strength training techniques and the flow of yoga. Juliet has consulted for and appeared on numerous programs such as Good Morning America, Dr. Phil and Entertainment Tonight. Numerous publications including Vogue, Shape, Los Angeles Magazine, People, Oxygen, Fitness Magazine, Glamour and Health Magazine have also featured her as a fitness expert. Juliet is trained and certified in multiple disciplines, making her workout programs both diverse and innovative. She is certified as a Second Generation Master Pilates Teacher and has received dual certification as a personal trainer from the American Council on Exercise and the National Academy of Sports Medicine. In addition, yoga guru Dharma Mittra trained her as a yoga teacher. Juliet brings a vibrant voice and unique perspective to the Vionic Innovation Lab.