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Rest: How Much and When?

As physiotherapists here at Body Plus Health, we are constantly talking about the importance of exercise and continuing to use/move our body. But something that we as physiotherapists probably don’t talk about as often is rest and its importance.

Rest is very important - it is just as important as exercise. We need rest to let our body heal and recover, but also to let our mind recover. What can be tricky is how should you incorporate a rest day into your weekly routine? How many days should you rest? What is involved in a rest? Many people believe that a rest day should involve you doing nothing at all, but a rest day doesn’t have to be like that at all! A rest day could incorporate a light yoga session, a walk, meditation or even just simple stretching.

How often should you rest? Well there is no correct answer to this question. Everyone is different, some people will need more rest days, while other people will need less. Some common factors to consider when deciding how much rest you will need is your training/exercise history; life stressors; and training intensity. Someone who has a long history of intense exercise/training will likely need less rest compared to someone who has less experience. Someone with a lot of external stressors, such as work or other commitments, will likely also need more rest compared to someone with less.

A good way to think is that if you put your body through a workout or activity that involves giving 100% effort for a long period time, you need to give your body and mind a chance to rest and recover. Exercise provides not only our muscles and joints with stress, but also our mind. The concentration required during each exercise session is massive! So you need to give your body and mind a chance to rest.

Generally, a good rule of thumb is 1-2 rest days per week. However, it is all dependent on how you are feeling and YOU are the best judge of how YOU'RE feeling! Generally, if you are newer to exercise you should take a few more days between sessions to allow your body to adjust to the training you’re doing. As your body adapts and is able to tolerate exercise better, you can then decrease your rest days. If you're unsure it is good to ask, but generally giving yourself one day between each exercise session is a good start.

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