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The term 'rest' can often cause unease among those who are active, as the fast-paced nature of our society places great emphasis on the importance of continuous physical activity. Yet, there is growing evidence to suggest that taking regular breaks from exercise - or rest days - are just as crucial as the exercise itself. 

The role of rest in recovery and repair 

Why? Because whether you're a professional athlete or just starting out, rest days provide your body with the time it needs to recover and repair. During exercise, muscle tissue breaks down, body fluids are lost and energy stores become depleted

The impact of rest on muscle fatigue and injury prevention 

During periods of rest, your body repairs the micro-tears in your muscles, replenishes lost fluids, and restores energy stores. Without such recovery time, your body won't be able to carry out these essential repair and replenishment processes. In addition, rest helps to stave off muscle fatigue, which is a weakening of your muscles after a period of intense and prolonged exercise. This weakening can impact performance. Furthermore, ensuring you take sufficient rest days can reduce the risk of injury. 

Rest and performance improvement 

Regular rest days can also enhance your performance. Without adequate rest, it becomes harder to stick to your workout routine, and even more challenging to push yourself. Overtraining can result in reduced endurance, slower reaction times and poor agility. 

Rest and its relationship with sleep 

Another benefit of rest days is improved sleep. While regular exercise can enhance sleep quality, taking rest days can help regulate hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, which, if overproduced, can lead to poor sleep quality and increased fatigue. 

What does a rest day look like? 

So, what does a rest day look like? It can vary, depending on your exercise routine and lifestyle. 
Rest days for different types of exercise 
If your routine involves moderate to vigorous aerobic activity, it's vital to take a rest day every 3 to 5 days, with more vigorous activity requiring more frequent rest days. For runners, especially beginners, it's best to run 3 days a week to avoid overuse injuries and fatigue. On the other days, engage in different forms of exercise that don't involve the same muscles used for running, such as upper body activities, stretching, or yoga. 
Bodybuilding, weight training and rest days 
Those who are into bodybuilding and weight training typically rotate the muscles being worked on each day. After exercising a specific muscle group, you should allow that group to rest for 1-2 days before training it again. 

Rest day activities 

Finally, a rest day doesn't equate to spending the whole day on the couch watching TV (although, that's fine too!). Low-impact exercises such as walking, swimming, and yoga are ideal rest day activities as they allow you to stay active without putting too much strain on your body. 
By following these simple steps, you can help your body recover from your hard work and keep yourself fighting fit. Book yourself in today, and don’t forget your water! 
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