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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Putting on the Breaks without Derailing

Go ahead, take the day off from exercise. Just as you plan vacation days from work to reenergize, you need to schedule regular breaks from exercise to give your body a chance to re-coup. Although regular exercise is important for your health, so is rest.

Why Rest?
  • Exercise places great physiological demands on your cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems. Rest gives your body a chance to adapt to these stresses and rebuild.
  • Proper recovery improves your performance during exercise as well as during day-to-day tasks because it allows your body to replenish its energy stores.
  • Rest leads to an increase in your strength and endurance by giving your body a chance to repair the microscopic damage that occurs to your muscles from physical activity.
  • Taking a break periodically will prevent boredom and mental fatigue.
  • Rest days help to decrease the risk of injury and illness.
  • Days off help to prevent burnout and the overtraining syndrome (see my 05-12-09 post, "When Going for the "Burn" Leads to Burnout").
How Many Days During The Week Should Be Rest Days?
  • 1-2 days off per week, preferably on non-consecutive days, is acceptable for the average active individual.
  • Serious recreational or elite athletes may need to schedule more days off after competitions or if signs of overtraining are present.
  • Extended rest periods (approaching 1-2 weeks) can lead to detraining effects (the principle of reversibility - "use it, or lose it").
Recovery Day Tips:
  • Designate one day a week as your day off or cycle your day off, such as every 3rd or 4th day take a break.
  • Get a massage. This has been purported to improve blood flow and oxygen supply to, as well as reduce inflammation and swelling in, the exercised muscles.
  • Ensure that you get at least 8 hours of restorative sleep (uninterrupted).
Can't Let Yourself Take A Day Completely Off From Exercise?
  • Plan a day of chores around the house, such as light yard work.
  • Substitute a day of aerobic exercise or strength training with yoga or calisthenics at a low-intensity.
Appropriately scheduling regular rest days into your exercise program will maximize your performance and health. Care should be taken to avoid extended rest periods which can lead to detraining and loss of health benefits.

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