Rest and recovery play an integral part in our ability to adapt to stress and grow stronger. Unfortunately it gets pushed to the wayside……
If you are a regular exerciser or newbie workout enthusiast, knowing the importance of balance in critical.
Each day, we are able to use a certain amount of energy on our work, family, errands, friends, and physical activity.
If you are a “type –A” person, you may try to give your all in each of these areas of life, and this can easily lead to burn-out, chronic stress, and a compromised immune system. This is where the importance of strategic recovery comes into play: structured downtime where you are able to simply do less and recharge.
In exercise alone, this same model of energy expenditure applies. You may have a few weeks of strenuous workouts, but soon enough you will find you cannot keep pushing each and every time.
You experience a crucial need to step-back.
A veracious appetite.
Loss of sleep.
Signs of fatigue and sickness.
Bloating, indigestion, digestive distress.
Brain fog, feeling totally “out of it”.
Loss of libido.
Increased risk for injuries.
These are all signs your body is telling you to pay attention to your level of imposed stress. Hormonal deregulation can ensue leading to adrenal issues, sugar cravings, severe mood swings and more. It will become harder and harder to run farther, build more muscle, lose fat, do more pull-ups, or whatever your fitness endeavours happen to be. Other areas of life may suffer too, from lack of focus, irritability, and less mental clarity.
It may seem counterintuitive to schedule in downtime, but this ends up being essential in your overall exercise longevity. What does this mean? Well, it can look like this as starters:
- Setting an alarm clock for bedtime! This can also come in the form of a night time ritual that includes reading, journaling, and some chamomile tea.
- Scheduling a weekly or bi-weekly massage. Not only will this help you recharge but prevent injuries as well. Massages are one of the more underrated “tools” for helping our bodies in stressful times.
- Saunas. Another powerful way to sweat, relax, and recharge. Saunas offer a wide array of health benefits.
- “Off days”. Taking a complete day or two off from exercise. On these days it is important not to cheat and allow your body to actually rest. No, you won’t lose any fitness either!
Remember: exercise is a stressor on the body as much as it is a “mental stress release”
Exercise may be a great “stress release” from a hectic day at the office, but it’s also another form of stress to the body. When you recover with proper time, your body is revitalized and primed to burn energy.
In athletics, this is a very common way of training. Usually, there is a time where you progress in your training, followed by a taper week where you lessen the training load. This is followed-up by an event, or intense form of exercise where you “go all out”. Your body then needs time to recover once again.
Over-training is all too common nowadays and injuries are increasing across the spectrum of sports, despite improved technological capabilities. When you take a step back and alter between periods of intense commitment and structured recovery, progress is made and you stay healthy. This is the key for longevity and consistency.
For more questions on how to build a smart training plan that includes strategic rest and recovery periods, send me a message or get in touch about my coaching plans at www.gthcoaching.com