Why I’m No Longer Afraid of Rest Days

I love working out. Really and truly. I am one of those weirdos who wakes up excited to move my body in a yoga, barre, or spin class. Exercise is also a big part of my life. It’s literally at the center of my career as a yoga teacher and fitness instructor. It’s also been a key way for me to manage my own stress and anxiety issues.

When I first started getting into fitness, I hated taking rest days. I love working out and I know it’s good for me — so why would I take a day off from it? But the thing is, rest days are a necessary part of working out. According to the American Council on Exercise,“too much exercise without proper rest and recovery can lead to injury” and it also does not allow your muscles to fully recover after working them. Turns out too much of a good thing is not in fact a good thing — and can lead to injury or burnout.

It’s taken me awhile (I’m talking YEARS) to learn to appreciate rest days. Now I couldn’t imagine not taking a rest day (or two!) every single week.

Rest days remind me to slow down

As a New Yorker and all-around intense human, my natural state is go-go-go. I want to cram in as much as humanly possible into any given day and I also want to challenge my body when it comes to working out. While all of this is great, and has made me a pretty productive human being overall, it’s also SO important that I remind myself to slow down. Way down. Rest days remind me that it’s OK to take a step back and breathe — and really that it’s not just OK but also really good for me.

Taking a rest day recharges my body

The truth is your body needs to reset and recharge, much like your phone after lots of texting and scrolling instagram. When you work a muscle group, you’re actually creating teeny tiny tears in the muscle fibers. Your body then repairs these tears, allowing these fibers to reconnect in a stronger fashion. By not properly allowing your fibers to grow, you’re actually stunting your progress and not allowing your body to reset and recharge.

I come back stronger after rest days

After giving my body to proper time off to recharge, I always come back stronger. My body is no longer sore and achy. I find I’m more energetic in my yoga practice or I’m able to use heavier weights in my favorite bootcamp class. I also found this to be the case when I was distance-training to run my first marathon. My longer runs were MUCH stronger (and faster!) when I scheduled them for the day after rest days. It allowed my legs to rest up.

Rest days keep me injury-free

Getting injured is the worst. Trust me. Often times not taking a rest day can lead to injury — you’re not performing your best and you misstep or you overuse a muscle while compensating for soreness. I want to do everything in my power to keep my body safe and injury-free, and one of the ways I do that is by making sure I always take one rest day per week.

I remember it’s only one day

I used to fear that rest days would destroy all the progress I’d made on the fitness front. I would worry that I’d come back slower or weaker. That I’d lose some of my muscle tone that I’ve worked so hard to build up. But remember — it’s only one day. You wouldn’t expect to suddenly lose 20 pounds after one day of working out. Similarly, you won’t destroy all the progress you’ve made by taking a day or two off every week. I promise.