It’s what you do after a run, not before, that makes the biggest difference where recovery is concerned.
As big a part of my life as the IT world is, it’s not the only thing I think about. I also happen to be an avid fitness enthusiast! I believe exercise and wellness are big parts of leading a happy, healthy, and successful life, and I’d like to pass that on to you.
In this series, I’ll share simple and effective tips and insight for leading a healthier life. Keep these in mind, and you’ll be surprised by how soon you feel a difference!
This week I’ll be sharing a few of the reasons why it’s important to give yourself enough recovery time between workouts.
There are a lot of reasons to skip the gym a few days a week that have nothing to do with your schedule. We’re not machines, and a lot of different factors can leave you feeling too tired to make it through an entire workout. Stress, a lousy night’s sleep, or an unexpectedly busy workday can take the wind out of your sails, and make heading straight home a much more appealing option.
But even when you don’t find yourself lacking energy or motivation, it’s still a good idea to consistently take days off. Consistency is hugely important to fitness success for a lot of reasons, and sometimes that’s as much about what you don’t do as what you do.
Physical activity is great for the human body, but even low impact fitness activities put a strain on your muscles, joints, and nervous system. Whether you’re trying to lose weight, bulk up, or improve your overall fitness level, giving your body adequate recovery time in order to heal is vital.
Say for example you’re focused on building muscle. You know you should break up your weightlifting and exercise routine in order to allow you to focus on one muscle group at a time – leg day, arm day, etc. – and rest for a few minutes between sets. But certain major joints are going to play a key role in all of your exercises, and simply changing the way you’re working that particular area isn’t enough to truly recover.
More importantly, working out seven days a week doesn’t give your muscles an opportunity to rest and rebuild. Recovery time is critical when you’re actively trying to build muscle. The act of lifting weights is only half of the process, and if you’re spending too much time on the first half of that process and ignoring the second half? Your overall fitness level will suffer.
Without recovery time your fitness level will plateau, and there are few things that kill motivation more effectively than having your progress suddenly grind to a halt no matter how hard you work. This applies not just to aspiring bodybuilders, but to people trying to lose weight or improve their endurance. Without taking a day or two off each week to relax, the constant strain on your body will start to work against you.
However, it’s important to remember that recovery time is as much mental as it is physical. As important as it is to focus on rest and nutrition during your downtime, making sure you’re still getting the protein and nutrients your body needs to bounce back, you need to give your mind a break, too. If all you’re thinking about is the progress you’re not making because you’re not at the gym, all you’re doing on your day off is adding to your stress level.
Fitness should be a big part of your life if you want to be healthy, but if it’s all you think about you’re quickly going to burn yourself out. It’s hard to stay motivated and focused when you’re constantly anxious about your fitness routine. That added pressure you’re putting on yourself won’t do you any favors.
Structured downtime is important, but it’s not the only recovery time you should give yourself. As much as sticking to a routine helps with your fitness goals, you shouldn’t avoid altering that routine at your own expense. If you’re sore or tired, listen to your body and sit out that day’s workout or run. Pushing yourself to get your miles or reps in when your body is telling you it’s not up to the task right now could lead to an injury – which is the last thing you want.
Injuries are not just an unwelcome disruption the routine you’ve built for yourself, but the recovery time needed to get yourself back to 100% can be lengthy, and even put you right back to square one. It doesn’t matter if you’re training for a marathon or just want to feel better, you need to be mindful of what your body needs from you to stay at peak performance.