Any machine that works continuously is bound to heat up a lot, get over worked, under perform after a while until it finally wears out. And the human body is the most complex machine that was ever made. Your body does a lot all through the day, just to get you around and get your work done. If not rested well, the first symptoms that pop up are tiredness and fatigue, eventually leading to illness. Imagine the kind of ‘stress’ your exercise puts your entire body under. Hence, rest and recovery after your workouts are paramount not just to function normally but also to give time to the workout to show results. Today, let us understand what is ‘REST AND RECOVERY PERIOD’, and how & why we must do it.
What is Rest & Recovery?
In simple terms, it means what it reads – to let your body rest without heavy activity so that it recovers.
This is the period where you allow your systems to reset and get back to the normal, while they slowly adapt to your exercise over a period of time.
It is a very common thing to ‘over train’. It is quite possible that you could be doing it too.
You might be pushing yourself because of the guilt of eating a restricted food or missing workouts, and exercising more than required in short period of time. (maybe even less than 12 hours). But all of this is just WRONG!
The body repairs and strengthens itself in the time between workouts, and continuous training can actually weaken even the strongest of people. It allows you to recover not just physically but also psychologically. When you do not let your body rest as much as you should, you can end up injuring yourself more easily. People can train properly or improperly, but they often forget about the recovery time from their workouts.
Importance of Rest and Recovery
Let’s keep it simple and break down the points you need to know why it is important –
- Rest helps muscles repair, rebuild, and strengthen themselves
- The body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place
- Recovery allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues
- It restores the body fluid balance, body temperature and regulates the normal hormonal functioning
- The body is allowed to adapt to the stress associated with exercise, replenishes muscle glycogen
To summarise it all, rest drives out the fatigue and makes you feel stronger than before, so that you can get back to better workouts. Without sufficient time to recover, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise.
Types of Rest:
- Short Term – Also known as Active recovery, it is the most common form of recovery and occurs within hours after an exercise session or event. It includes low intensity exercise after working out and during the cool down phase. During workouts, rest in-between different sets of exercise is also needed in order to give your muscles time to briefly recover before being used again for the next set.
Focus: Replenishing energy stores and fluids lost during exercise and optimizing protein synthesis. This is also the time for soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments) repair and the removal of chemicals that build up as a result of cell activity.
- Long Term – This refers to recovery periods that are built into a seasonal training schedule and may include days or weeks incorporated into an annual athletic program.
Focus: Easy adaptation to various exercise, complete rest for muscles and resetting the various body systems. It focuses on long term health benefits of an ongoing exercise routine. This helps adapts your fitness into your lifestyle
- Sleep – The most important part of rest and recovery, not only for exercise but for everyday life as well, is sleep. Your body needs 7-9 hours of sleep in order for all of the chemical, hormone and anti-inflammatory responses to happen at their peak level.
With this established, I hope you consciously incorporate rest periods in your routine. According to American College of Sports Medicine, a rest day must occur at least one to two times per week. Remember, rest days are a key part of any exercise program, and vital for positive results and a reduction in injury risk. Keep your guilt aside and maybe skip the workout once a week. It will give you better results. If you have any queries, drop a comment below and I will be happy to help you out!