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Ester Marsh column: Why rest is so important

Week four of our Strong Challenge focused on rest. Sometimes when we get into the swing of things, we get worried that when we take a day of rest that everything falls apart. Whether it’s running, swimming, biking, lifting weights or something else, we all need recovery days. If you keep pushing yourself and do not rest, you set yourself up for a chance to get injured. Instead of feeling fresh and revived, you feel fatigued and fidgety, and may even experience insomnia or restless sleep.

How about loss of appetite? I know what you are thinking, that’s good! No, its not. Always remember that you need to eat to lose fat. Your car will not run unless you put gas in it. It’s the same with your body. Your body works so much better when you give it the nutrients it needs (I will cover this another time).

Overtraining, not giving your body enough rest, actually decreases your performance. So instead of getting stronger, faster and feeling better, you feel like you are working harder with less results. Overtraining can also affect your mood. A positive side effect of exercise is feeling good about yourself and it will lift your mood. Overtraining has the opposite effect.

What should you do? The American College of Sports Medicine recommends all healthy adults should participate in moderate intensity aerobic physical activity for 150 minutes throughout the week, or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity throughout the week. And for strength training, they recommend a minimum of two days with at least 48 hours in between workouts one set of 8-12 reps and 10-15 reps for beginners or older population. If you feel you need to keep doing something on your rest days, light stretches or gentle yoga is perfect.

Most importantly, listen to your body It will let you know when you are doing too much. Balance your workouts, feed your spirituality, and share kindness and respect.

Ester Hoeben Marsh is health and fitness director of the JF Hurley Family YMCA.

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