Ester Marsh: Why rest is so important

Published 12:00 am Saturday, January 28, 2023

Especially in the beginning of the year when so many people started or re-started their exercise routine, some are worried about taking a rest day. We get worried that when we take a day off that everything will fall apart.

Whether it is running, swimming, biking, lifting weights, or taking exercise classes, we all need recovery days. If you keep pushing yourself and do not rest, you set yourself up for a chance to get injured or overtrain. Instead of feeling fresh and revived, you feel fatigued and fidgety and you might even experience insomnia or restless sleep.

How about loss of appetite? Many people think that would be a good thing but it’s not. Remember that you need to eat to lose fat. Your car will not run unless you put gas in it. Your body works much the same and is better when you give it the nutrients it needs.

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

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. How about walking your dog, or an easy hike on our beautiful trails in and around Rowan County? Most importantly, listen to your body — it will let you know when you are doing too much. Balance your workouts, feed your spirituality, and as always, share kindness and respect.

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