Ah, the coveted rest day: a time when you give your body a break from a productive week of exercise. If you’re locked into “training mode” for an upcoming marathon or slimming down for an upcoming wedding, it’s hard to put on the breaks and just chill. It could be from fear that you will give up, lose focus or even gain back a few pounds you worked so hard to take off. The truth is, a day of rest will prevent your body from suffering from overuse injuries. It also forces you to hit the reset button. Like it or not, a rest day is a necessary part of an otherwise active lifestyle. Here are five tips to steer you through your rest day:
Just because you’re not lifting weights on your rest day doesn’t mean you won’t be lifting grocery bags, kids or even furniture. Those day-to-day activities are hard to escape. But remember, it’s a rest day. Be kind to your body, and give it some R&R. Even a 30-minute cat nap will do your body good. Wound up? Here are some tips on how to relax.
A rest day is the perfect time to have that (one!) fudge brownie or slice of pie. Constantly denying yourself foods that you love can lead to overeating or even binge-eating. Giving in to your cravings once in while is healthy and will keep you from going off the deep end in the future.
We know, we know … it’s a rest day. But hear us out: Stretching does more than keep your body flexible and functional. It is a great way to relax and connect with your body. Stretching on your rest day gives you the opportunity to take inventory of your body, and find out what aches or pains it may have. After all, sometimes you don’t know a muscle is sore until you give it a good stretch the day after a workout.
Since you’re not dashing off to that spin class, you have time to think about the upcoming week. Now is your chance to update your food and exercise logs, plan meals for the week and research that new fitness boutique in your neighborhood or learn that new recipe you’ve had your eye on. Keeping your brain active while your body relaxes is OK. Just don’t stress out; then you’ll have to repeat No. 1 in this list!
If you’re on a steady exercise schedule (good for you!), you’re most likely skipping happy hour with friends for the gym. Focusing on an important fitness goal — like placing in the NYC marathon or your team’s championship game — can make spending time with family and friends that much harder. Balancing social life with personal fitness goals is tough, but if you don’t do it, your relationships could suffer. A rest day is your opportunity to catch up with everyone and let them know you haven’t fallen off the face of the planet. They’ll appreciate the effort, and you’ll feel better about yourself. Win-win!