I used to roll my eyes at the “older” people in my life that told me about their aches and pains or that they couldn’t do the exercises I was doing anymore. What, were they lazy? Then I hit 50 and a funny thing happened…I was that “older” person! My body didn’t respond to exercise as it did earlier in my life. Fatigue, muscle and joint aches and those crazy injuries, the ones you have no idea what you did, started to happen to ME!
Sound familiar? Unfortunately, it’s not your imagination. It happens to the best of us as a natural consequence of aging. So what do you do? Don’t follow those “standard” fitness rules because they no longer apply and the biggest one is that rest days are for sissies.
I have been learning, with great pleasure, that rest days are just as important as exercise. In fact, a well balanced workout plan for us “women of a certain age” isn’t complete without rest days. When you exercise, especially when doing a strength training workout, you are actually causing microscopic tears in your muscle tissues. During rest the muscle tissue is given a chance to heal and grow, resulting in stronger muscles. Rest also allows your body time to replenish its energy stores so you’re even more prepared for your next workout.
Here are 4 benefits of those rest days.
1. Prevents muscle fatigue
Have you ever done too much and you just can’t move the next day? It may not even be soreness, your muscles are just TIRED! Rest is necessary for avoiding exercise-induced fatigue. Exercise depletes your energy and if this energy isn’t replaced you may be feeling it in the form of muscle fatigue and worse, soreness.
2. Reduces risk of injury
I’ve seen it happen in my clients, group class attendees and even in myself. As we get tired our form goes out the window. We recruit muscles to help such as the back and neck which can lead to pain for the next several days or worse a long term injury. When you’re tired you’re also more likely to develop an overuse injury such as a strain or tear that may force you to take even more rest days.
3. Better Workouts
Have you ever noticed how easy a workout is after you’ve taken a long weekend break or even a vacation? I thought the opposite would happen if I didn’t religiously keep up with my exercise. It’s not true, and I know that after a nice 2 to 3 days break from strength training I’m more motivated to do that extra repetition or try that heavier weight or push myself a bit more.
4. Better Sleep
Have you heard me talk about cortisol? It’s our stress hormone, the one we need to help our body deal with stress or run away from danger if we need to. Exercise increases your cortisol and lots of exercise can cause an overproduction. High levels of cortisol can make it hard to get good quality sleep which can then worsen fatigue and exhaustion. Rest days can help your body regulate your hormones which may help you sleep better.
Ok, so now you’re convinced, right?
So what does a rest day look like?
I know you’d love me to say that a good rest day is being lazy on the couch binge watching Netflix. While yes, I do prescribe that if you’re not feeling well or you’ve really pushed hard (like I did yesterday and filmed 3 videos in one day. It was only supposed to be 2 but my camera glitched half way through one and I had to redo it. )
My goal of a recovery day is to rest but also make sure to get some movement and more importantly reduce stress. I call these “active” recovery days. My favorite active recovery options are a good stretch, lower intensity Pilates, a nice walk or hike, a ride on our new eBike or doing some house or yard work. I filmed a really fun Active Recovery and Stretch workout on the cliffs of San Onofre overlooking the Pacific Ocean. I am so proud of how good this workout video turned out. If you’d like to try it here is the link Active Recovery and Stretch
There are also things called “passive” recovery and I use these when I really need a good rest and my muscles are a bit sore..
Foam Rolling is now my all time favorite thing to do, not just on my recovery days but most days. I won’t go into a lot of details here but if you’d like to learn more I did a video on the Benefits of Foam Rolling (just click the link to head to the video on my YouTube channel. Here is my favorite foam roller right now OPTP Soft Density Foam Roller 36″ Long
In the Be Healthy Enough Online Exercise Platform I also have 4 foam rolling videos to guide you through the process.
Another amazing thing for a passive recovery day is to get a massage. Foam rolling is really a DIY massage but oh, what a treat to have someone else do all the work. I know with Covid I’ve been skimping on these self care treats but if you’re extremely tight, sore, full of tension and stress, consider investing in a massage once a week for a month then tapering off to once a month.
If a regular massage is out of the question and you feel like you need a bit more you may want to try one of the popular percussive massage guns. They look like a construction tool but let me tell you they feel amazing.
Percussive therapy is a massage technique designed to treat soft tissue pain. It is often done using a massage gun like this which delivers strong pulses and vibrations into the muscle tissue. It’s light, easy to hold, and does all the work. You don’t use pressure, you let it glide over the area that needs attention.
I got this one for Christmas SUMGOTT Massage Gun but its no longer available but this one has a great review BUY ON AMAZON and started using it regularly to help with my tight hips and now my husband uses it for his back. I’ve been told it can also help with cellulite but I have not done any testing on this. There is so much marketing crap out there about cellulite I don’t even want to touch that topic. Maybe if I start seeing some results I’ll share because yes, even a personal trainer that exercises all the time has cellulite.
Lastly a wonderful passive recovery activity is to take an Epsom Salt bath. Epsom salt contains magnesium which is the relaxation mineral most of us are deficient in and if you’re sore it may help. Just soaking in a warm tub feels so luxurious and adding Epsom salt could also help you sleep better which will of course help you recover! I just get mine from Amazon EPSOM SALT
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions or need a bit more help with your health or fitness journey why not schedule a FREE 30 Minute Wellness Consultation with me. I’d love to help in any way that I can. Click the book now link below and find a time that works for you
If you’re a women over 50 and you’d like to get moving and feel better you should try one of my online workouts designed just for us; low impact cardio to protect our joints, strength training because its a must as we age, Pilates because a strong core = a strong body and more.
Oh and you can try ALL of my workouts FREE for 7 Days by clicking HERE and signing up!