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Skip Your Workout—Guilt Free

Sometimes less is more, and that includes exercise. After all, bodies can only handle so much, which is why working out strenuously every day can cause more harm than good. I know this reality all too well. I love to play tennis, and I used to play nearly every day, but a few years ago, a rotator cuff injury sidelined me for nearly a year. But as Kayla Itsines, a fitness trainer from Australia, recently pointed out, there are additional benefits to occasionally skipping a workout.

Here are three reasons to take a day off from the gym at least once a week:

  1. Excessive exercise can take a toll on your immune system. If your body isn’t sufficiently rested, it’s more vulnerable to germs, which means you’re more likely to get sick. Research has shown that endurance athletes have depressed immunity and higher risk of infection, particularly upper respiratory tract infections.[i]
  2. Rest also helps your body repair itself. When your muscles contract and extend during exercise, you can develop tiny tears in the muscle fiber called micro-tears. That’s why you sometimes feel sore after a hard workout. The only solution to avoiding these is a little time off, and once those micro-tears are healed, you will be better able to push yourself your next exercise.
  3. Exercising every day, particularly if you do the same kind of exercise, can lead to boredom with your routine. The most important part of any exercise program is that you do it, but also switching up your routine. Varying the kind of work outs you do from day to day can help certain muscle groups rest, but taking a rest day from exercise can also make it more appealing when you return to it.

So, what’s the ideal exercise-to-rest ratio? It’s been recommended that beginners exercise two days in a row and then rest one day. Once you’ve been exercising a while, taking one day a week off is a good schedule for many people. If you’re undertaking high-intensity workouts, some experts recommend that every eight weeks, you should dial down your exercise for a week to give your body a break.

What counts as rest? If you’re in the habit of exercising very hard, rest means no exercise, or a short walk at most. If your routine is more moderate, you might take a yoga class or go for a long walk instead of hitting the gym.

Whether it’s an exercise day or a rest day, also be sure to nurture your body with a good night’s sleep and healthy foods. Protein, healthy fats, whole grains, and plenty of calcium, zinc, and vitamins A, D, and C are needed for muscle repair and growth. A post-workout Juice Plus+ Complete Shake is a good way to promote recovery because it contains 13 grams of easily absorbable soy and other natural proteins. It also provides 8 grams of fiber, plus calcium, vitamin C, vitamin D and other nutrients in a convenient package. When Olympian gymnast Shannon Miller was training, she made Juice Plus+ part of her routine to ensure she was getting enough nutrition. Check out her story!

What do you do on your rest day? Share in the comments below!


[i] Gleeson M., Nieman D.C., Pedersen B.K. Exercise, nutrition and immune function. J. Sports Sci.2004;22:115–125.



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