We have discovered the easiest way to make your exercise work harder for you: do absolutely nothing!
"It can’t be true," we hear you cry. Oh but it is. Rest days, or days when you don’t exercise, will increase your fitness, improve muscle tone, prevent burnout and aid your motivation.
Don’t believe us? We spoke to the experts to confirm our suspicions.
Rest up get fit
"We need rest days," says exercise physiologist Ben Nowlan (instituteforhealthyliving.com.au). "When we rest we allow the body to refuel muscle energy, create important proteins that repair the muscles, and increase hormones, such as human growth hormone, which helps reduce body fat by normalising glucose (sugar) levels.
If we exercise at the same intensity or do the same exercises for the same duration for too long, we won’t keep seeing results. Rest days help prevent that."
Take a day off
If you’re worried that having a day off could undo all your hard work, breathe a sigh of relief because the rest day is actually where the hard work is done. "Your body needs to recuperate in order to get the most out of your next training session," says LivingWell Health Club personal trainer Jerome Boadu (livingwell.com.au).
He says that rest and recovery are also needed for mental wellbeing. "No-one would want to work for seven days straight as it’s mentally and physically draining. Exercising is the same."
Smart vs Sloth
So how can you tell if your body is legitimately in need of some downtime? "If you exercise regularly and aren’t training for an event, include at least one rest day in your schedule.
For those who are training quite intensely, having alternate days off is a good idea," says Boadu. "If you’re feeling run-down or you’re sick or nursing an injury, take a day or two off, but if you feel any guilt for not training on a particular day, chances are you could have trained."
Nowlan suggest listening to your body to determine if a rest day is warranted, but he cautions against making excuses. "We need to exercise at least three to four times per week, so if you’re making up reasons to exercise less than this, you could be erring on the side of laziness."
More CLEO health: Secrets of the super fit