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Why Rest Is an Integral Aspect of Your Overall Fitness Level

Exercise is not merely a bodily activity. It also has an impact on the brain, which is partly why it's important to prioritize recovery after all forms of physical activity.

We often emphasize the need to remain physically active throughout the day-to-day grind of everyday life, and while it’s certainly necessary to exercise in order to stay healthy, it’s also important to rest. Your overall fitness level is comprised of three primary components: diet, exercise and rest. The latter may be surprising to some, especially considering that research indicates sufficient recovery time is vital to your health. But failure to allow your body to rest can halt fitness progress.

Understanding the Need for Rest

According to a study conducted by the University of New Mexico, recovery in training is critical for optimal exercise performance and overall improvement. The body undergoes physical and mental strain during exercise, and thus needs sufficient rest time in order to operate at maximum efficiency. The study references two types of fatigue, which impact the body’s need for recovery: peripheral and central. Peripheral is defined as impairment of active muscles, whereas central is classified as diminished ability of motor pathways from the brain and spinal cord to operate. The complexity of recovery is not merely subject to the sensation of feeling tired; it’s physiologically dependent on a variety of processes that occur within the body.

Types of Recovery

Rest is often categorized into some form of relaxation, like watching television on the couch or taking an afternoon snooze. But the concept of rest is not completely independent of exercise. The study referenced cites two forms of recovery: immediate and short-term. Immediate recovery occurs directly after exercise while short-term refers to rest in between bouts of exercise. It’s necessary to take proper precaution when engaging in physical activity. Do not perform strenuous exercise if you begin to feel nauseous or lightheaded. Also, perform a brief cool-down period after an intense workout session. This will enable your heart rate to steadily decline to a normal resting rate.

Factors of Recovery

The body naturally reveals certain signal-markers that indicate a need for extended rest. They include severe muscle soreness, poor workout performance and lack of appetite. These signals are often an indicator that your body needs an additional period of rest in order to operate at full efficiency. It’s recommended that you rest each major muscle group for at least 48 hours in between weightlifting sessions. Also, do not perform high-intensity interval training (HIIT) more than twice per week. Other factors critical to your recovery include proper nutrition and sleep. Eat protein-rich food immediately after exercise and try to sleep for a minimum of eight hours per night.

Benefits of Rest

Rest is an integral aspect of physical fitness, and has been scientifically tested to improve your ability to exercise at a high level. Overtraining is not a workout myth; it is indeed possible to overwork your body to the point of debilitating your ability to perform normal daily functions, like walking to the car or doing the dishes. The benefits of rest are bountiful: you’ll feel more energized, in addition to being able to cognitively function at optimal efficiency. Working out is not only a bodily activity; it also has an impact on your brain. Ensuring yourself sufficient rest time will enable you to excel both at the gym and at the office.

John Shea is a team sports fanatic and fitness aficionado. His work has been published across a wide platform of online audiences in the realm of health and fitness. His passion for fitness is exemplified in his writing, as he aims to help readers improve their overall well-being.

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