I hear a lot about "rest" and "recovery". Many theories, opinions and ideas about when, how and what exactly the terms mean even.
Prevailing theory is that hard efforts must be followed by a recovery time. Makes sense to me. Most of us, though, aren't elite athletes and do not train/eat/push our bodies like we are. When an elite athlete rests it may mean an easy day at the gym and an easy shake out run to get the blood flowing. In some cases, it means the athlete will rest. Completely. Because they need every calorie they intake to nourish and repair their bodies. It takes most bodies 24-48 hrs to recover from a hard effort. Elite athletes combine high intensity workouts with high volume workouts + cross training to achieve peak performance goals.We, human athletes as it were, do not.
Most of us work out/run/cycle/etc.. to achieve one of the following, or similar:
- improved health
- weight maintenance
- social enjoyment
- fun (I know - only sick people like me LIKE working out)
- mental health benefits
My opinion? Rest and recovery are all relative.
We all work out hard. But we need to move EVERY.SINGLE.DAY day in some meaningful way. Science has shown that living an active lifestyle has more benefits than we will ever begin to understand. We are NOT built to be sedentary. At all. Ask paleolithic man if he ever had a rest day. Uggg. No rest. Grunt.
Paleolithic man was also far more likely to die via tusked beast, falling rock or paleolithic woman than he was heart disease or cancer.
An active life (one in which we are sedentary as little as possible) is scientifically proven to reduce the risk, symptoms and more of over 38 chronic, life altering diseases. Movement can extend the longetivity of your immune system, help maintain muscle mass, keep the circulatory system circulating, prevent loss of bone density and ward of symptoms of neurological diseases such as alzheimer's and dementia. Oh and, etcetera etcetera. I could go on. And on.
And people think we sell fitness for weight loss.....pfft. Only one egg in the carton has anything to do with weight. And that's no yolk.
So, considering you are committing to move because, well...all or any of the above.... should you work out three days a week, and do nothing the other four? Based on the fact that you worked out really hard those three times?
Absolutely. Not. Enough. I am sorry to break everyone's fitness bubble, but one hour in the gym and 23 on the couch/office chair do not a healthy person make. Every movement counts. Seven days each and every week. As often as you can.
We need to consider our rest as being supplied by adequate amounts of good quality sleep, nutrition and water. Toss in some activities that we enjoy to make life fun, and there is our rest and recovery in a nutshell.
Choose your type and intensity of workout according to how you feel, and of course common sense. Hitting the gym for an intense leg workout followed the next day by a super intense long distance run, followed by... well, you get the picture. Mix up your movements and your intensity levels often, or as needed.
For the most part, life itself will give us too many rest days....overtime at work, emergencies, general busyness, can rob us of our best attempts to move and move often. Occasionally we get knocked out with a virus and simply cannot get up. There's rest for you.
There are a few times when we should review our need for rest. If you find yourself experiencing many injuries, perhaps feeling a bit grumpy, bored or sick of your fitness routine, then you should stop and check. Am I getting adequate rest? (sleep, nutrition, water, fun). If not - work on those areas of your life. Try switching up your program to alleviate boredom and fatigue - and as a bonus, help prevent repetitive use injuries. If those all fail - take some time off. Make sure to move as often as possible still, but take time to smell the roses on a walk or try a restorative yoga instead of a power version.
Get up and move around every hour you are awake. No matter where you are. Standing is better than sitting - so stand if walking around is not an option.
There is no rest for the wicked. Just ask our first paleolithic woman, Eve.
Find Your CORE