Something happened to me this morning. It happened suddenly and without warning. Like a power outage in my body.
After teaching a short (and somewhat half hearted) ballet lesson I went and changed into my walking gear to take my dog for our daily walk. Half way through dragging my shorts on I looked over at Louis ( my dog). He was laying sleepily on my bed sharing my general lack of enthusiasm for movement. I sighed and said to him "maybe later? is that ok?". I took his lack of reaction as a resounding yes and went to the kitchen to make myself some breakfast. I flicked through my mind's recipe filing cabinet before again sighing and reaching for the emergency box of moderately healthy cereal I keep for days like today.
I am having an internal power outage. In my head I want to be getting outdoors, testing new exercise regimes to review for my readers, making new healthy recipes to share with everyone... but in my heart, I want to rest.
HENCE I bring you "The Important and Very Necessary Guide to Rest Days!"
Whether you are a fitness junkie, an athlete or just someone who likes to stay moderately active, exercise can take a significant toll on your body's resources. To some fitaholics, a rest day can be viewed as the path to self destruction in which months of hard work are reversed and unravelled within 24 hours. It is essential to maintain a sensible perspective towards the body's need for rest and recuperation. Here are some of the key benefits of factoring a rest day into your health and fitness schedule:
* It allows your immune system to function efficiently. Tissue repair and growth can only take place when specific muscle groups are at rest (hence why it is also beneficial to rotate your targeted muscle groups in each training sessions), without taking time out from training, the immune system is forced into overdrive which leaves you feeling burnt out and at risk of injury.
* It improves sleep patterns. Overstimulating the body's adrenal system can increase your heart rate and alertness. This in turn affects the quality of your sleep and can interfere with your ability to relax and unwind.
* It benefits mental cognition. Mental fatigue can be just as debilitating as physical fatigue. Allowing your mind the opportunity to disengage from your fitness schedule can reinvigorate your perspective and approach to fitness whilst also enabling you to relax and enjoy life's other pleasures.
With this in mind, a rest day does not necessarily mean sleeping until midday and laying on the couch all afternoon. Rest days can still include activities that keep you up and moving, but engage your mind in a different, non fitness driven way. Some great rest day activities include:
Grab a basket and rug, pack a sandwich and some yummy nibblies and walk or ride to a local park with friends! Don't forget the hat and sunscreen for a healthy and safe shot of Vitamin D.
Home Spa Day!
Use some of my scrumptious natural body beauty treatment recipes and treat yourself to a healing bath or facial. Perfect opportunity to catch up on reading your latest health, fitness and food magazines too .....or even my blog! Hehe!
Pick some great healthy snack recipes and make a weeks worth! Keep them in snap lock bags and freeze if necessary. This is a great way to motivate your to stay healthy and active for the remainder of the week and provides an easy healthy diet maintenance solution for any other days you might wake up feeling flat.
Sometimes there is nothing more cathartic than grabbing a basket at your favourite fresh food market or health food store and just wandering the aisles. Its a great opportunity, when not in a hurry to make your 4pm gym session, to be able to take your time and browse through all the great products that are available. Also (and this might sound slightly nerdy of me), it also gives you a chance to educate yourself about your purchases; reading ingredients and nutrition panels, finding out where the food is coming from and really evaluating your purchases before reaching the checkout.
Things NOT to do on your rest day (at least not for the entire day)
* Workout..... we've already been over this. Just don't.
* Clean and do chores. As if you needed me to even say this. The only exception is removing clutter to help de-stress your space.
* Watch a 12 hour marathon of a TV series, e.g. Sons of Anarchy...... Ive not seen it myself but it sounds like that would be a tempting thing to do.
* Sleep (a little sleep in is fine but sleeping all day can make your sleeping patterns even worse, try to get up around the same time as any other morning)
* Binge on "naughty" food. Fitness is not about restricting happiness. You should be enjoying healthy foods you love daily. Try not to use rest days as an excuse to binge on chocolate and ice cream. A treat here and there (on any day, not just rest days) is fine but an all day junkathon is not what your body really wants or needs.
Having taken some time out to write this, I feel a little more rejuvenated already. I might take that walk with Louis after all. Or perhaps he can squeeze into my basket for a puppy picnic instead :)
Lots of love xx