Rest Days, the Best Days 

By Jacqui McLean  

Competitive athletes often practice multiple times a day, for hours at a time, six to seven days a week. It is well within the norm to push themselves to their limits every single day. Although this practice is often admired and attributed to the success of athletes, the lack of rest, or rest days, can actually be detrimental. Rest days are essential for athletes’ productive performance. In fact, rest days actually improve athletes’ success. The following are benefits of rest days. 

  1. Recovery

Perhaps the most obvious reason for rest days, athletes need time off to recover. Recovery includes an increase in energy as well as restoration of sore muscles. Without rest days the body can become chronically fatigued and lead to constant soreness and tiredness. 

  1. Improve Strength 

Particularly for those who lift weights or train rigorously, rest days help build muscle strength. When lifting weights or doing body weight exercises, muscles undergo microscopic tearing. This tearing can often be the cause of muscle soreness. By resting sore muscles, the muscle tears can repair. When muscles repair the torn muscles grow slightly by fusing the tear. 

  1. Prevent Burnout 

Too much of a good thing can be bad. No matter how enjoyable a sport or activity can be, an athlete can always burn out. Rest days provide an opportunity to take time away from a sport and enjoy other activities or simply relax. Diversifying interest and activities can help prevent burn out. 

  1. Better Health 

Exercise is a great way to stay fit and healthy. However, too much exercise can actually harm the immune system. Rigorous exercise increases cortisol and adrenaline. Too much cortisol and adrenaline can suppress white blood cells and increase susceptibility of infections. Rest days allow the body to balance and diminish health risks.