Happy December and Happy holidays from Flex Level Fitness and Impact Fitness. We hope you all had a great, restful, and gratifying Thanksgiving holiday.
At this time of year, it often seems we are met with more obligations, commitments, and distractions that come at what seem to be the most inopportune times. Fulfilling our many obligations can often have us seeking more time in our day, which may require adjusting our schedules, often having us forego whatever self-care we practice, and for us, that likely includes our gym time.
This often begs the question, “Should I take a day or two off? Maybe it would do me some good. How often should I rest anyway?”
The answer to this varies greatly based on myriad variables, including training frequency, intensity, goal, age, and others. Whether or not a rest day or two is in order for you can often be determined by listening to your body, assuming you have taken proper care and paid proper attention to your physical and mental health long enough to make an honest and well-informed decision. When determining whether the holiday season may be a convenient and even beneficial time to take an occasional extra day or two off, a good place to start is addressing these few questions:
1. Are you more tired than usual?
Sleep disturbances, including trouble falling asleep, can result from your Central Nervous System (CNS) working overtime to heal your damaged muscles. Change does NOT happen in the gym. It happens ONLY during rest time when your body repairs itself from the muscle breakdown you caused during your workout. If this sounds like you, consider extra time off during the winter and see if you feel better than you do training as you are now.
2. Are you feeling more irritable than usual?
Sure, there are a number of jokes that can be made here. Though you may notice that physical activity generally improves your mood, overtraining (aka under recovering) has the opposite effect. Overtraining is a gradual thing, and if you’re in tune with your body you ought to be able to realize that slow changes are occurring such as a bad night of sleep, increased negative thoughts, or feeling like you are developing a mild head cold. If this is you, take some time to let your body repair!
3. Are you always sore?
Remaining conscious of the fact that muscle soreness is not necessarily an indicator of a good workout, know that being sore all the time is a sign that you need to allow yourself some rest. Muscles take 48-72 hours to recover, and if you’re sore longer than this, it is likely that some time off would do you some good.
There is no magic number for how many days off someone needs for optimal results, these are a few of the things to consider when determining whether your current regimen is allowing enough time off for your body and mind to perform optimally in all aspects. If you find that you fit any of the descriptions above, consider the advice to afford your body some time to rest and recover. You may be amazed at how much better you feel mentally and how much stronger you are when you return to the gym after that time off.
Unsure if you really need time off or if you’re seeking an undeserved break? Being honest with ourselves and others is a discipline that can pay huge dividends in all areas of our lives, not the least of which is our physical health. If you feel uncertain, compromise with an extra day of active rest, such as taking a 30–45 minute walk at moderate intensity. The benefits of active rest have been proven for years, partially due to the increased blood flow it provides.
When you encounter what is the busiest time of year for many of you, give yourself an honest assessment of how hard you’ve been training, how good your diet has been relative to your goals, and whether this is a good time to consider overhauling your routine to incorporate more time off while also making some general changes that can reinvigorate you going into 2022. Then, if more time off is in order for you, you’ll be able to take it, enjoy yourself and the many great treats available at this time of year, while leaving the unnecessary guilt at home!
Need guidance or direction? Overwhelmed or confused by all of the health-related information we’re surrounded by? I encourage you to seek the help of Flex Level Fitness or any of the qualified trainers available at Impact Fitness to ensure you’re making the most of your time in the gym and are eating properly with respect to what you are aiming to achieve in 2022. We would love to help you get there!
From Flex Level Fitness and all of us at Impact Fitness – Auburn, Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, and Happy Holidays to all of our members! You are all appreciated!
Adam Sjogren is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, NASM Certified Sports Nutrition Consultant, and NASM Certified Behavior Change Specialist. He is not a doctor or registered dietitian. The contents of this message should not be taken as medical advice. It is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any medical problem, nor is it intended to replace the advice of a physician. Always consult your physician or qualified health professional for matters regarding your health.