The Surprising Science Behind How Rest Days Make You Stronger

If you love hitting the gym, pounding the pavement or staying active in a sport on a weekly basis, first give yourself a pat on the back! There are just so many positives to gain from exercising regularly – from having a healthier body, keeping a sharper mind to even giving your self-confidence a boost.

However, the unsuspecting negativity starts to creep in when you find the idea of taking a day off from your exercise regime an unpardonable sin. Truth is, whether you like it or not, your body is no machine. And unless you happen to have quick-fire healing abilities like Wolverine of X-Men, chances are, you’ll need rest days in between your workouts. You’ll also have to ensure your body gets the proper love and attention it deserves. Here’s why and how:

The importance of rest

From lifting weights to running intervals, physical exercise can damage muscle fibres and create a feeling of soreness, which is a sign for your body to rest. It’s during rest periods that muscles have time to reconstruct or recover in stronger formations and increase in size. Research suggests that because muscle soreness can peak two days post-exercise, a minimum of 48 hours of rest is optimal to allow recovery and prevent injury. Sleep is also important as it is during our slumber that Growth Hormone (GH) levels are at their highest.

Making nutrition count

However, rest days do not necessarily mean just lounging around and eating whatever you like. The last thing you want is to overdo your caloric intake by eating junk food or food high in saturated fats and sugar. Or worse, consuming too much alcohol which decreases muscle growth.

Eating the proper foods on rest days is key to optimising your recovery and even muscle growth. Be sure to consume a variety of high-quality carbs such as fruits, pasta and whole grains which help to restore your glycogen levels. Eating the right protein in the form of eggs, chicken, fish and lean meat also provides amino acids that your body needs to repair and build new lean tissue. Munching on plenty of antioxidant-rich foods such as beetroots, berries and leafy green can also help to decrease post-workout inflammation build-up.

Lastly, it’s crucial to ensure proper levels of hydration to prepare for your next workout. Entering a workout dehydrated can severely affect performance. It is recommended to drink at least 1.5 to 2 litres of water daily.

Looking for your joints

Working out, running or playing a sport can often take its toll on your joints and mobility. Which is why taking a supplement during your rest days may help to maintain your joint structures. One supplement to consider is BRAND’S® ActivMove. Formulated with Flexi-Boost®, a unique blend of UC-II® and Hydrolyxed Type II Collagen, it protects joint cartilage from further deterioration and maintains joint flexibility. What's more, UC-II® has proven to be twice as effective as the combination of glucosamine hydrochloride (1,500mg) and chondrotin sulfate (1,200mg) in promoting joint comfort and mobility. One tablet a day is all it takes for you to live actively!

Going for a massage

While there is some contention to its supposed benefits, there is no denying that a massage unquestionably makes you feel good and revitalised. A massage on your rest day may help to reduce pain and inflammation as well as help your muscles to recover.