As we begin October, I’m reminded of how my running habits typically change around this time each year. Though I typically run outside year-round, I reduce my weekly run frequency and average distance over the late fall and early winter months in most years. This year will be a little different, as I’m planning to run more consistently over the coming colder season.
When you are used to exercising at a given frequency each week, significantly increasing the frequency and/or intensity of your workouts can leave you fatigued. Even when you increase these variables gradually, your body still needs time to rest and recover.
Rest days and lighter intensity workout days can provide some variety in your schedule while providing recovery time in between your higher intensity exercise days.
Though being consistent helps to build a strong exercise habit, you will benefit from taking regular rest days.
From allowing your body to heal from a strenuous workout to reducing the risk of overuse injuries, rest days provide a break for your body and allow you to come back stronger.
Further, as you age, you may find that taking additional rest days creates a more sustainable routine.
When and how do you schedule your rest days?
Do you take a rest day or two each week on the same days? Or do you listen to your body and take a rest day when you need one?
If you’ve been doing the same type of workout without varying the intensity, are you sufficiently recovered the next time you repeat your workout?
Even if you weren’t thinking specifically about fitness, it’s likely that you have already incorporated rest days into your schedule, perhaps because of other commitments or personal preferences.
Whatever your approach, building rest days into your regular fitness routine will help you to sustain your activities over time.
Depending on your goals, preferences, and personal fitness level, you may require more or less recovery time than others.
Tracking your activities — along with additional data such as exercise intensity and how you feel — can help you to determine if you need additional rest and recovery time. Once you have a good idea of what’s working or not, you can make adjustments as you see fit.