Chances are, most of our New Year’s resolutions included ditching the excuses (and 3pm sugar hits), with the hopes of getting into shape, both mentally and physically. But the truth is, even if the idea of religiously hitting the gym seems like a surefire bet to boarding the health train, research suggests that giving your body (and equally your brain) a rest day, is actually key to seeing results. Here we look at the three biggest benefits to skipping your spin class and having a cuppa with your feet up instead.
Your brain will thank you
Just like work-overload, trying to achieve too much, too quickly, is the standard equation for burnout. Constantly counting your steps and measuring fitness KPIs with no downtime or cheat meals during the week can turn your leisurely activity into another stressful task. And if just sitting idle makes you feel lazy, research shows that mental downtime is essential to the brain’s processes of solidifying one’s identity and developing our understanding of the human behaviour. In short: an opportunity to make sense of what’s been happening during the week, and where we fit into it all.
You’ll have strong bones
It’s not often that we give thought to our bones, but they play an important role in protecting our organs and anchoring muscles, and helping us in get around in our later years. According to a study conducted by the American Physiological Society, when looking at the training schedule of Olympic female rowers, rest days were crucial for increased bone health, with intense workouts meaning that high inflammation and proteins served in preventing bone growth, compared to that in recovery weeks.
You’ll see desired results
Let’s be real, most of us are results-oriented people. So the chances of you lifting those weights for long periods of time without seeing any improvement is unlikely. But over-training with zero rest can lead to a physical plateau. Due to your body’s protective mechanisms, sometimes overworking the same muscle over and over can stop you from seeing desired results. By alternating your work-outs and focus areas, or switching your cross-fit session for a meditation-focused yoga class, you are allowing your muscles to recover and heal before your next sweat-session. Feel bad? Science is on your side. Research by the University of New Mexico shows that recovery from training is a crucial element to optimal performance and improvement.