By: Katie Verburg
Katie Verburg is an ACSM Certified Personal Trainer who is currently studying to become a Holistic Health Coach. She has been in the health and fitness industry for a decade. Here, she writes about the importance of taking a break from working out.
Whether you’re in the wellness field or not, you may have noticed the growing interest surrounding health and fitness in recent years. It seems that at every corner, there’s a new studio, a new online trainer to follow on Instagram, or a new fitness fad to try out. While to some, these trends may inspire new workout routines and eating habits, to professionals – myself included – this venturing out can be somewhat harmful. It is assumed that working out and exercise can reduce daily stressors as well as improve moods. Do you know what else can do the exact same thing? The complete opposite. Resting. Taking a day, a week, or even an entire month off exercise can have more benefits than you think.
… or, lack thereof for most. The average American only gets an average of 6-7 hours of sleep per night. Adding that inadequate amount of sleep on top of a heavy 8- to 10-hour work day, plus home-life stressors, and commitment to a gym or exercise studio each day, leads to more stress on the body as well as less time to unwind and simply relax. Doesn’t sound ideal, right? Instead of that late-night workout, try giving an extra hour to unwind, or spend time with loved ones.
The human body does so much on a daily basis, and often aren’t given proper recognition. With high-intensity workouts or never skipping a workout, the body and the muscles are overworked, tight, and lacking elasticity. What does this mean? It means that the muscles can’t relax; they’re only trained to be contracted. Taking time off from constantly exercising gives those muscles the chance to recover, relax, and loosen up. Stretching at home, getting a massage, or doing trigger point therapy can all assist in helping the body calm down.
Often, exercise is made to sound more complicated than it needs to be. When in reality, it can be so simple. Taking a week off those regular exercise classes and going for a walk with the dog, stretching in the morning, meditating after work, or good old-fashioned yard work are all incredible options to get your body moving. The average working American already doesn’t get the recommended number of daily steps each day to reap the benefits, so why not start there with something as simple as just going for a walk instead of pushing through an intense cycling, kickboxing, HIIT, or boot camp class.
The health and fitness industry have a whirlwind of overwhelming information out there, with some being accurate and some not. It’s tricky to distinguish the fake from the truth on social media, which is why some accounts should be knowledgeable and have the proper education to back up the claims they’re making. Simply put, just take a break. Our bodies do so much for us on a daily basis, and it’s important that we learn to recognize that. Take a day off, or a week, or better yet a month if that’s what your body is asking for. This is not to be confused with giving up on all healthy lifestyle habits. Instead, it is taking a break from physically intense and somewhat stressful situations that are placed upon the body.