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The role of the rest day

Last Modified: March 05, 2022

Sports & Exercise

When it comes to constructing an exercise schedule, is more really better? Candice Dunkin, MS, LAT, ATC, manager, Parkview Sports Medicine, explains the value of taking at least one day for self-care and rejuvenation.

When you are working out to achieve a goal, rest is an important aspect that frequently gets overlooked. Many of us know that staying up too late to finish a pressing project for work can actually do more harm than good. The same is true for exercising every day, without a break. Not taking a rest day can result in muscle soreness, a decrease in your immune system, decreased performance and possibly injury. Rest is also good for your mental motivation. By taking a day off a week, it can re-energize you and make you want to get back into your activity with a new sense of excitement.

If you’re just starting your exercise journey, a rest day every third day is a good strategy. As you become more comfortable in your exercise routine, a good rule is to take one rest day per week of activity. 

If you absolutely don’t want to take a rest day, try another activity. Perhaps instead of running, you take a yoga class. Or perhaps instead of weight lifting, you go for a walk. 

Even professional athletes work in an off day per week, or more, depending on their training regimen. The body needs time to rest and repair, and even experienced athletes need time to do this.

Ultimately, it is important to listen to your body. A rest day can also work well for your mental health, as taking time to spend with family or friends rather than working out may be more beneficial than the effects of exercise for your well-being. Lastly, make sure that your rest day still includes getting enough rest and eating healthy. 

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