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Why are rest days such an important part of exercising

So you’re settled into your exercise regime. But are you pushing yourself too hard? Rest days should play an integral part of your fitness plan. Here are four reasons why:

1. This may seem obvious, but rest days help prevent muscle and joint injury from overuse.

2. When you lift weights, you’re essentially tearing muscle fibres. Rest days allow your muscles time to repair and rebuild. Without a proper period of rest (and good nutrition) you won't get the full benefit of your training.

3. Too much exercise can put your body in a constant state of restlessness, making a good night’s sleep difficult. Sleep is essential to recovery as this is when tissue growth and repair occurs.

4. Moderate amounts of exercise help decrease stress levels, however too much exercise causes the body to produce hormones like cortisol that can increase irritability and anxiety.

Don’t worry about losing your strength or fitness. It takes your body almost two weeks of non-activity before you start losing a noticeable amount of your progress. 

Schedule rest days into your diary. I’m not encouraging you to lounge in front of the TV all day, in fact active recovery is hugely beneficial. Use the time that you would usually dedicate to formal exercise to have a good stretch, go for a walk with friends or even to plan and prepare nutritious meals for the next few days.