Most people today live rather active lifestyles. Not only do we work long hours to enhance our careers, but we also devote our time outside of the office to caring for family and loved ones, engaging in hobbies and social activities, and more. Still, as busy as your days may be with all of the demands of work and home, it's still important to make a little time for exercise - and many of us are beginning to recognize the benefits that frequent physical activity can provide.
Unfortunately, in the excitement of committing to a new workout regime or rediscovering a beloved sport, many of us forget to factor in one of the most essential aspects of fitness: rest days. We assume that if we exercise longer and harder, we'll see results faster - but the truth is that when you're just getting back into exercise, or starting up for the first time, you risk muscle strains and injury by forcing yourself to do too much, too soon. This leaves you laid up in your calf compression sleeves - waiting for recovery - instead of getting fitter.
Here, we're going to cover why you need to implement rest days into your fitness routine to balance work and fitness, as well as the signs that may indicate you need to consider a planned recovery schedule.
Why You Need Planned Recovery: Preventing Injury and Improving Strength
Although calf compression sleeves can do a lot to enhance endurance and improve recovery times following an injury - that doesn't necessarily mean you should be relying on them every day just so that you can keep on moving. If you push yourself too far and too hard without a break, then your joints and muscles are bound to suffer from overuse - leading to an increased chance of serious injuries. This means that it's a much better idea to take a single day off to rest and recuperate - than be forced to take months in bed away from exercise as a result of a serious injury.
Of course, the benefits of regular planned recovery days don't begin and end with a reduced chance of injury. The truth is that if you balance work and fitness with rest days, you might actually be able to build stronger muscles, faster. When you're strength-training in the gym, you're actively tearing and breaking down muscle fibers. If those muscle fibers are not allowed to repair themselves over time (with rest), then you're not going to see any results in terms of growth. That's why bodybuilding experts often recommend training different muscle groups over different days so that you don't overwork yourself.
Similarly, while regular exercise is beneficial to both your mental and physical wellbeing - working out intensively on a daily basis is terrible for your energy levels - particularly when you're in the process of getting back into shape. That's why it's so important to take recovery days that will help to boost your energy stores - in combination with a nourishing diet, and plenty of hydration.
How to Tell If You Need Planned Recovery Days
In an effort to balance work and fitness effectively, many of us convince ourselves that we're resting enough - when actually our bodies are struggling to keep up with the demands we're placing on them. Here are some signs that you're not allowing your muscles to recuperate properly, and you should start thinking seriously about planned recovery:
1. You're Sore all The Time
There's nothing wrong with a little soreness in your muscles after a tough day at the gym - especially if you have a set of calf compression sleeves to help you recover. However, if you exercise regularly then you really shouldn't be feeling sore all of the time. Depending on the muscle group you're focusing on, you'll need to give each area of your body 24-48 hours of planned recovery between sessions, as soreness could be a sign that you're overtraining.
Everything from persistent muscle pains, to increased instances of sickness or frequent injury, are all signs that you've been overtraining. Fortunately - recovering is simple - just take it easy for a while!
2. You're Moody and Tired
Fatigue, depression, and moodiness are all indications that you may be training too hard. Most of us know that exercise is intended to make us happier - thanks to the rush of endorphins that are delivered straight to our brains. However, it's important to remember that those endorphins can also be accompanied by small doses of cortisol - a hormone that creates stress. When cortisol levels are high for an extended amount of time, they can make you seriously grumpy and even depressed.
3. There's a Problem with Your Heart Rate
One of the easiest ways to figure out if you've been training too hard in an attempt to balance work and fitness, is to look at your heart rate. Begin by checking your resting heart rate in the morning, and you should be able to figure out whether your body is too stressed for training that day.
A lower than normal heart rate may also be a sign that you've been overtraining, but the first step to figuring out what is normal for you is to begin recording your pulse.
4. You're Stiff (A Lot)
If you spend too much time pounding the pavement, and not enough time thinking about planned recovery sessions, you could find that your knees begin creaking and your muscles fail to move to their full extent. Any problems with mobility could be a sign that you need to give your body more time to recover between strenuous cardio sessions and activities that involve a lot of repetitive movement.
5. Your Urine is Dark
Finally, if you have dark yellow urine, then this could be a sure sign that you're pushing your body too hard. Problems with the color of your urine indicate that you're too dehydrated to start exercising, which means that you need to stock up on water before you even think about hitting the gym.
Remember, it's not good enough to simply rehydrate while you're working out, as it takes the body at least forty-five minutes to recover from even the mildest symptoms of dehydration.