Updated: Apr 26, 2020
Rest days are just as important as the days you work out. Let me tell you why:
1. Your Body Needs to Rebuild
When you exercise, especially resistance training, the muscles in your body break down. You create little microtears in your muscles. You become stronger when your body repairs those microtears and builds them up to be even stronger than they were before. But that restoration occurs when you rest. If all you do is workout and never give those little tears in your muscles a chance to recover, you won’t get the kinds of results that you’re looking for. You will be worn out and sore and eventually will reach the point of overtraining. When you get so exhausted that you’re overtraining, you’re much more prone to injury, which can set you back significantly in your exercise journey.
2. Your Sleep Can Be Affected
If you’re exercising too much, your sleep patterns can be interrupted. Studies have shown that people who exercise excessively have recorded less time asleep as well as a poorer quality of sleep. In most studies, the changes in your sleep have been linked to changes that occur in your mood and hormones because of the overtraining.
3. Your Immune System Needs to Recover
When you exercise at a higher intensity, your body builds up inflammation in the body. When this happens, your immune system is weakened, and you are much more susceptible to getting sick. With as much as you have going on as a pregnant or postpartum mama, you want to make sure that you aren’t any more susceptible to germs than you have to be, so letting that inflammation go down in your body is important.
4. Your Motivation Will Improve
Performing the same exercise day after day can become monotonous and boring. Eventually, your workout will become something that you “have” to do, not something that you want to do or enjoy doing. Giving yourself a break gives you a chance to look forward to the next workout and build anticipation.
As with most aspects of pregnancy and postpartum, there’s no “one solution” that works for everyone. You need to evaluate your own body and fitness goals and determine how many and what kind of rest days you take. Maybe you need to take 1-3 days off completely each week. Maybe you need to take one complete day of rest with some active recovery days, where you do things like swimming, yoga, or taking a walk or hike. There are so many ways to incorporate rest into your fitness routine and you need to do what is best for you and your journey. But, no matter how you work it in, just make sure you’re giving yourself some good, quality rest!