Why a Day off From the Gym Is Actually Good for You

Instagram shots of some seriously fit folks have plenty of people taking their workouts a bit more seriously. While this desire to stay svelte might encourage you to kick your fitness routine into high-gear, it’s easy to take things too far. Working yourself to exhaustion at the gym every day means you’re at risk for over-training, and it can take a toll on your body. As surprising as it might sound, spending a little bit of time away from the weight room or treadmill is one of the best things you can do for your body.

If you’re feeling run down, a little rest could benefit you in five different ways. So take a break. Your body will thank you.

1. Reduce risk of injury

Knee injury

All of that training will go to waste if you get injured. | iStock.com

Performing strenuous workouts every day might get you in shape initially, but you could soon find yourself suffering from some painful problems.

Even for exercise veterans, a day or two per week might not be enough. If you’re involved in a seasonal sport or activity, longer periods of rest should be a regular part of your routine. Verywell says good training programs incorporate rest periods into an annual cycle where athletes will perform activities that aren’t as intense. Since professionals take some downtime during their offseason, you should, too.

2. Better results

Man doing bicep curls

Your body needs time to recover. | iStock.com

When preparing for a competition, there’s nothing worse than finding your progress has flat-lined. The natural response might be to amp up the intensity of your program, but pushing yourself harder could make your performance suffer even more. Runner’s World says constantly exhausting yourself doesn’t allow your body to adapt to the stress, so you won’t be able to get faster or stronger. Continuing to train without allotting for proper rest means your performance will continue to decline.

3. Mood boost

Man taking in fresh air

Too much exercise can negatively impact your mental health. | iStock.com

According to Men’s Health, too much bodily stress leads to an increased production of cortisol, a stress hormone that contributes to irritability. For some folks, too much training can lead to more severe mental issues. Personal trainer Lee Boyce tells Men’s Fitness some men start to have a distorted view of exercise when they’re overtrained. They start to think of hitting the gym as a challenge or a way to fill an empty space. He also added that poor body image can lead some to think they need to exercise more in order to look better.

4. Better sleep

Man sleeping peacefully

Sleep is vital for your body to repair itself. | iStock.com

Aside from feeling fatigued, overdoing your workouts can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep. Ultra-marathon runner Dean Karnazes told Fitbit that exercising too much makes your body restless, so it’s difficult to get a solid night of sleep. That’s especially problematic for those interested in bulking up. Bodybuilding.com says sleep increases growth hormones, which are crucial for developing strong muscles.

5. Burn more calories

close-up of a man measuring his waist

Gaining that muscle is going to increase your metabolism. | iStock.com

It’s easy to go overboard with exercising if you’re aiming to get lean. Once again, rest plays a vital role. Men’s Health said you’ll only get the results you’re after by combining training and time off. And if you regularly lift weights, you’re already boosting your ability to slim down. Mayo Clinic explains this is because muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does.

If the thought of doing absolutely nothing is just too agonizing, consider an active rest day. The key is making sure to keep your effort light, otherwise you’ll fall right back into the over-training cycle.