Today’s post is coming to you from the beautiful Bay Area, where I’m spending a few days with my family before meeting up with some girl friends for a ladies weekend. Yesterday was all about parental bonding, and today it’s all about the siblings. I can’t wait to see both my sister and my brother today!
There’s a lot going on today, but there’s one thing that’s purposefully not happening. A workout.
Rest days are insanely important. They help prevent overuse injuries and mental burnout. Rest days, like when you’re sleeping, are the time when your muscles get to rebuild and grow stronger. The inflammation that naturally occurs during your workout has a chance to ease and subside on a rest day. If you continuously workout without giving your body a chance to heal, you’re at a greater risk of injury due to altered flexibility which leads to posture and muscle compensations.
The number of rest days that are needed depends on the person. Listen to your body! You’re only hurting yourself by overworking your muscles.
With all of that said, you certainly don’t have to spend your entire rest day camped out on the couch to reap the benefits. Here are some ideas of things to do on your next rest day.
1. Take a walk – Rather than letting your legs stiffen up by sitting all day, shake them out with some light cardio by taking a walk, and enjoy the fresh air while you’re at it.
2. Take a yoga class – This is a favorite of mine, especially after a day of running or spinning. I always feel great after a yoga class.
3. Meditate – Meditation has been shown to have countless positive effects on the body and the mind. (Here are four free apps to help get you started.)
4. Do laundry – If you’re working out often enough to be taking rest days, you’re probably accumulating quite a pile of dirty workout clothes. Just saying.
5. Stretch – It’s a good idea to stretch every day that you workout, but it’s worth investing a little extra time to limber up and breathe it out at least once a week. Tara Stiles has some good stretching YouTube videos.
6. Foam roll – This is another one that I recommend doing on a daily basis, but an extra 20 minutes with your foam roller a couple times a week will do quite a lot in the way of reducing muscle soreness.
7. Clean your yoga mat – Seriously, take a look at it. It’s probably overdue.
8. Watch a nutrition documentary – Since you’ve already decided to honor your body with a rest day, why not honor your brain with some health knowledge at the same time. (Check out one of my faves here.)
9. Meal plan or prep for the week – People who meal plan spend less on groceries and eat healthier than those who don’t. Source: science. (Here’s my complete guide to meal planning.)
10. Plan out your next four workouts – I refuse to step foot in a gym without a game plan in mind (and also written down). It’s too easy to lose steam and motivation while roaming aimlessly from machine to machine with no set plan. But if I know exactly what I’m doing and in what order, I can zone out and focus on getting it done.
Question: What’s your favorite way to spend a rest day?