Staying fit and hitting your daily activity recommendations isn’t just about getting more workouts in day in and day out. The days you don’t work out are just as important as the days you do! Studies have shown that rest is just as important as vigorous exercise when it comes to staying healthy. Exercising too much with inadequate rest can lead to overtraining, which can make you feel tired and miserable and increase your chances of injuries.
Rest days allow your body time to recover from hard exercise and intense walking workouts, but they can also serve to help you round out your fitness in other ways as well. Here are four ways to use your rest days effectively.
Spend time prepping healthy meals
On your rest day, you may have a little extra time to spare. Use this time to prep healthy meals and low-cal snacks for the rest of your week. Pre-cook a favorite protein, like lean chicken or fish, and roast some vegetables. Store them in the fridge, or even better divide them into individual containers for convenient, ready to heat-and-eat healthy meals. When you have a meal ready and waiting for you, you’ll be less apt to hit the drive-thru or make a not-so-healthy choice later. Even if you’ve never tried doing weekly meal prep before, there are lots of tips and resources available on the internet to inspire you.
Try some gentle yoga or stretching
The harder you work out and the more steps you take, the more likely you are to get sore or tight muscles. Release some of the tightness in them with yoga or some easy stretches. Stretching and lengthening tight muscles can help you reduce the chance of pain and injury during harder workouts later. If you are unsure how to stretch effectively, check online for plenty of sources on fundamental stretches. Don’t be afraid to give yoga a try, either. You don’t have to go to a studio or class to gain the benefits. Gentle yoga poses can easily be done at home. Many gentle yoga videos can be found online for free on YouTube or other sources. Just be careful not to overdo it though! Taxing your muscles too hard defeats the purpose of a rest day.
Get a massage
Believe it or not, getting a massage can offer health benefits besides just feeling great. Massage can increase circulation and aid in repairing and rebuilding muscle tissue that may have been stressed during vigorous exercise. It also helps relieve muscle tension and can lead to an overall better quality of sleep. Self-massage techniques are helpful if you don’t want to spend a lot of extra money. Gentle pressure on tight areas you can reach is a great start. You can even turn a tennis ball into an inexpensive tool for easy, at-home massage.
Plan your workouts for the rest of the week
Use some of your free time to plan out where and when you’re going to walk, jog or do a Pacer guided workout for the rest of the week. If you’re planning to add incline walking, write down the route you’re going to take. If an intense walking workout is in your plans, decide where and when you’ll walk so that you have the best chance to hit your targets. By planning your walking ahead of time, you’re more likely to follow through when the time comes. Rest days are important, but you don’t want to turn what should be a walking day into an accidental rest day because you forgot to plan!
Rest days should be an important part of your overall fitness plan, but taking it easy on your exercise doesn’t mean you can’t do other activities to benefit your fitness and maintain your healthy habits. Make the most of your rest day and you’ll get even more steps and get even fitter during the rest of the week.
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