The rest day is a key part of any fitness routine, allowing your body and mind to recover and grow.
A heavy workout – especially if you’re just starting out – takes a huge toll on your muscles, and while you may feel tempted to hit the pavement every single day, your body will reap huge benefits on those days off. In the same way that weekends give you a chance to relax and rejuvenate from your busy work life, rest days give you a much needed reboot, and help prevent injury, build strength, and improve performance as your muscles heal and strengthen. So, if you’re feeling guilty on your rest day, don’t! It’s just as much a part of your fitness routine as your runs, weight lifting, and gym days.
You might be wondering how often you should put your feet up and take a break. That really depends on the intensity of your workouts, but for our 30-Day Fitness Challenge, we’ve built a routine around the ‘one day on and one day off’ approach, with light exercises or activities for mind and body. Not only will this approach kick-start a new fitness goal, but it helps engrain a daily routine of holistic healthiness and mindfulness.
So, how do you take a good rest day, you ask? Here are a few of our favourites!
This is an ideal rest-day option for runners. Not only does yoga provide excellent cross-training benefits, but it helps strengthen your leg muscles in between all of those runs. Find a few great yoga resources for runners here.
2. Go for a nice walk
Walking is one of our go-to rest day activities. Not only can you do it anywhere, but you can complete it at almost any intensity you like. Plus, a study by the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) found that by walking 25 minutes a day, you can increase your lifespan by up to seven years!
Rest days aren’t just about resting the body, but also the mind. Meditation for as little as five to ten minutes has been shown to dramatically reduce stress and anxiety. Best of all, the effects of these brief sessions carry on throughout your whole day. Not sure how to get started with meditation? Here’s one of our favourite meditation apps to help you find peace, relaxation, and mindfulness on your days off.
Like yoga, swimming is a great rest day option for runners, especially if you’re looking for an exercise-based rest day that’s easy on your joints. Plus, there’s something about floating buoyantly in water that’s just as restful for the mind.
5. Enjoy nature
From Vitamin D to a natural boost in serotonin, just stepping outside into nature has dozens of scientifically backed health benefits! But don’t take our word for it – get a bit of fresh air and see for yourself.
6. Indulge in a hobby you love
Cook a healthy meal from scratch, go canoeing, paint, knit, do crosswords, go bird watching. If there’s an activity you love, give yourself the time to simply enjoy it. Your mind will thank you, and, if it’s an outdoor hobby, you might even get some added exercise.
7. Spend time with friends
Even better yet, enjoy one of these activities with a friend. A 2010 study found that strong social ties with friends and family can boost longevity! After researching over 300,000 participants, the study found “that those with poor social connections had on average 50% higher odds of death in the study’s follow-up period (an average of 7.5 years) than people with more robust social ties.” So, get out and reconnect with your best friend – your health will thank you for it.
Do you have a favourite way to rest between workouts? Let us know in the comments below!