As important as it is to exercise, it's also important to take breaks and rest.
Research shows that depriving ourselves of sleep and rest affects mood (of course), suppresses immune function, causes hypertension, and can stimulate a craving for sugary food and carbs. Add a rigorous workout schedule into the mix and you're bound for physical and emotional exhaustion.
With summer rolling in quickly, many of us are eager to get into the gym as much as possible and push our bodies to the limit. But in order to see mental and physical results, we need to rest too.
Even the successful rest.
It’s not uncommon to feel like you’re the busiest person in the world, but you need to remember that even the most successful among us sleep. The key is to find the right amount of rest so that we reach peak levels of energy, mood, and performance at the proper times.
As the adage goes, we need our "beauty rest," right? Well, yes. Resting the proper amount allows our body to repair the breakdown in muscle tissue from working out. This helps rebuild a stronger, more toned body with a healthier mind and bigger smile. Research suggests that during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the body is able to restore organs, bones, and tissue; replenish immune cells; and circulate human growth hormone. Sleep has a profound effect on muscle growth and physical well-being.
Joe Pepe, a fitness trainer and American Ninja Warrior from Philadelphia, recommends his clients work out four days a week, for 30 to 45 minutes a session. That means in order to optimize performance and weight-loss results, you need to take at least a day of rest between workouts.
If you did squats Monday, wait until Wednesday to do hot yoga. Sprints on Thursday? Do your arm workout on Saturday.
Overexerting yourself comes with a cost.
If you're working out as hard as you possibly can, say at a boot-camp-style event, it’s possible to send your nervous system into a breakdown, which is not only discouraging but physically draining.
Central nervous system (CNS) fatigue is a form of exhaustion that is associated with structural changes in the brain that affect muscle function. So in healthy individuals, prolonged exercise can actually lead to neurochemical changes involving serotonin, noradrenaline, and dopamine. Make sure to not overtrain and to rest adequately after workout days.
Running a tech company, I’ve learned these hard lessons myself. My team and I often work 12- to 14-hour days, and I usually still go to the gym after. There have been days after squats that my entire legs feel like Jell-O. In order to avoid that feeling, I’ve committed myself to at least six hours of sleep per night and no more than four gym days per week.
As you go into the gym this week, remember that if you’re working out hard, you shouldn’t work out more than two days in a row without a rest day.
If you want more motivation getting into the gym in the first place, you can always join a social fitness challenge. The inter-accountability and fun factor is high among group workouts. Vea Fitness hosts group challenges like this too. Participants win prizes from Snap Kitchen, CORE, and other healthy brands.
Enjoy the hustle. Then enjoy the sleep