When You Should Take A Rest Day & When You Should Push Through

I love to sweat, to push through and experience that endorphin release. I love spinning and running, walking and hiking, yoga and Pilates. At one point in my life, I was even running a 13-mile loop every day, seven days a week while also weight training and going to the gym, working out for hours at a time, sometimes more than once.

Obviously, I had a problem but I wasn't willing to admit it until my body began to betray me, giving out in various ways. It was only then that I was forced to take time off from the exercise I loved so much and learn how to be an exercise enthusiast without going overboard.

It took me many, many years to learn whether I need to take a day off from exercising or if I should push through the discomfort. If any of these statements sound like you, it's time for a rest:

  • You've "pushed through the pain" for a couple of days in a row.
  • You can't remember the last time you took a day off.
  • You're sick from the neck down.

If any of these statements sound like you, it's time to push through and challenge yourself with an invigorating workout (within reason):

  • You feel depressed and sluggish.
  • You woke up feeling tight and sore from sleeping in a strange position.
  • You're tired from not sleeping enough, but not so tired you could injure yourself.
  • You have a slight cold or feel one coming on. (A short, slow-paced workout can boost immunity.)

And for those days when you genuinely don't know what to do, when you're having a hard time listening to your body because your brain wants to workout but your body might not be cooperating, try starting softly with a yoga sequence or a brisk walk. If you're still not into it after ten minutes, stop. You're allowed to give your body a break if that's what it's asking for. You won't get in trouble for resting. However, if those days off are hard for your mind, if you rely on daily exercise to calm or invigorate or just make you feel good, try to do something that's good for your body and will keep your head busy. My favorite is to schedule a massage, as it's the perfect treat for an athletic body during rest days. I also like making crafts with my daughter, binge-watching Netflix, reading, having long phone chats with a loved one or friend ... all ways to celebrate other activities I love to do. My final recommendation is meditation, a crucial part of general wellness and recovery. Taking the time to sit and reflect in silence gives us the opportunity to find mental relaxation without movement. So remember, honor your body and what it's trying to tell you every day. It's the only one you get.

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