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5 Signs You Need a Break from Exercise5 Signs You Need a Break from Exercise


exercise fatigue

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, 1 to 2 rest days per week is a critical part of a good workout routine. If you haven’t taken a day off recently, here are a few signs that you need to give yourself permission to rest.

  1. You're cranky. Overtraining causes you to feel uneasy, lethargic, and depressed. Often these feelings can turn into irritability that is targeted at those closest to you. If you are feeling overwhelmed with your workouts, and cranky because of it, it’s time to take a short break.

  2. You're running on empty. Regular exercise promotes health and weight loss, but it also depletes muscles of energy and fluid stores. After repeated strenuous exercise without a break, you’ll begin to feel the effects in the form of fatigue and cramping. Your muscles need a rest day to replenish energy stores and rehydrate.

  3. You’re mentally exhausted. Exercise taxes your mind as well as your body because it requires mental alertness. Long periods of activity at the same time every day is mentally exhausting. Not only does this leave you unable to concentrate, but it results in burnout. Pushing yourself too far for too long increases the risk that you’ll give up on exercise long term. It’s beneficial to take regular breaks to mentally refresh, and then return to healthy exercise with renewed energy.

  4. You’ve moved from discomfort to pain. The breakdown of muscle tissue is a natural part of exercise. As a result, your muscle repairs itself and becomes stronger, but it must have rest to properly repair damaged tissue. It is normal for a challenging workout to cause muscle soreness. When the soreness doesn’t go away within a day or two, or if you’re feeling pain and not simply discomfort, it could be the sign of an injury. Many injuries are caused by overuse. Incorporate rest days to prevent injuries that could derail your fitness goals.

  5. You no longer love your workouts. Has the excitement of your regular workouts been replaced with dread? If so, it’s time to rest and refocus. Take a guilt-free day to skip working out and brainstorm new activities that you can incorporate. Think outside the box – activities such as gardening , team sports, and weekend hikes count too. Once you find new activities, make a plan to take rest days and regularly switch up your routine.

Although complete rest is good, you don’t need to spend your day completely sedentary. Active rest such as light stretching or an easy walk through the park is also beneficial. The point is to give your body a break from challenging workouts so you will continue to see fitness gains and enjoy exercising.

Lori Rice, M.S., is a nutritional scientist and author with a passion for healthy cooking, exercise physiology, and food photography.
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