6 Reasons Why Rest Days Are Important

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Step count, active minutes, calories burned… These are all important pieces of data that help us live healthier, more active lives. But we often don’t stress the importance of rest and why your body needs days off.

With Fitbit, you can track and improve your quality of sleep. But that’s just part of the equation. Your tracker can also be extremely helpful in keeping tabs on your down days and limiting your activity so your body can fully recover in between your more active days of the week.

Still not convinced? Here are six simple reasons why getting your rest is so important.

1. Rest Prevents Injury

It’s common sense that resting is beneficial for injury reduction, but why? Well for starters, rest days prevent overuse. That extends from running to lifting and even walking. If you’re a regular runner, you know how much your legs and feet can take until you just need a day off. If you push it too hard without a break, your muscles and joints suffer from overuse and that’s where injuries can happen.

2. Your Muscles Need Rest

This is likely the first thing you learned about strength training. When you lift weights, you’re essentially tearing muscle fibers. But without a proper period of rest for your immune system to repair and grow the muscle, you’re not going to get the benefit of your training. That’s why you need to vary the muscle groups you engage on staggered days.

3. Your Performance Won’t Dip

In general, it takes your body almost two weeks of non-activity before you start losing a noticeable amount of your progress or performance level. So don’t think that taking a day or two off from training will set you back all that hard work you’ve put in.

4. Over-training Affects Sleep

Is your sleep data all over the place? Over-training could be the culprit. Too much exercise can put your body in a constant state of restlessness or on high alert making a good night’s sleep tough to achieve. A telltale sign is an increase in your resting heart rate. Taking those rest day can help bring down your alertness and heart rate, which can help get you a night of sound sleep.

5. Your Immune System Can Overheat

During periods of heavy activity, our immune systems are constantly activating to repair muscles and joints. Without proper rest, your immune system can’t catch up to all the repairs your body needs. And then? You guessed it: injuries.

6. Mental Edge

From a psychological standpoint, taking a rest period can rekindle your hunger for exercise and help prevent burnout. Mental fatigue can be every bit as detrimental as physical fatigue and taking a rest day helps to recharge the psyche.

So what can you do to get your mind set on rest? For starters, you’re going to have to make the mental adjustment to understanding and believing that you can take days off. It’s good for you, for all the reasons listed above.

Just like setting your daily steps goals, set your rest goals. Plot out a schedule and pick your weekly rest days; one or two days where you limit your activity to allow your body/muscles to recover. Use your tracker to limit your active minutes. If you’re a huge step-count achiever, give yourself a day where you limit even your walking to a weekly minimum. And don’t forget that active recovery is also hugely beneficial, and a standard routine of stretching or light yoga to improve flexibility and circulation can be especially valuable.

Of course, sleep is so important to your general rest and well-being, so use your tracer to improve your quality and amount of sleep. A solid pattern of sleep will help you be your best on your most active days.

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  • Good to see that it takes almost 2 weeks of inactivity to effect your performance level. I always worried about that if I took 2-3 days off in a row. Now as long as I get back on it after those 2-3 days I should be good to go.

  • An excellent article! How true this is. Without proper recovery time we take all those steps forward but end up taking a huge step back. In my own experience with RA to constantly press with no rest leaves me in pain and over trained. Wise words to follow that will keep us heading towards our long term goals.

  • At one time when I was going to the gym I was there 6 days a week they told me to come every other day or I would burn myself out, I was on the defense until, they explained why .
    so I agree 100 percent thanks for posting for others that are not aware like I was

  • I have been trying to get at least 5 miles each day on the fitbit. During the summer it is easy with being active all the time (biking, running,weight lifting, walking, paddle board, kayak Etc) this winter it was difficult because of the weather but achievable (only walking and hikes). It seems to work since I have not gained any weight this winter. So now spring and summer should be a breeze to even trim down more then I have done in the past. So my question would be what is to much? I do get down days but what should be my goal? Is 5 miles a day too much, too little. 5, 6 or 7 days a week?

    • If you build up to 5 miles a day, every day of the week, that is awesome! For me, that is around 10k steps. Lately I have been trying to hit 12.5K or 13K steps per day (if time allows), with one weekday down around 7-8K steps, one really big weekend day (16k-18k steps) and one weekend day of only a few thousand (rest day). Basically just listen to how your feet and ankles and achilles feel and take a day off if they are tight or sore.

  • So glad to read this and others’ concerns. I am suffering the consequences of no rest. I was too excited and proud of my progress. I feared I would lose that progress if I slowed down. I was finally enjoying running (which has NEVER been the case). After working up to 5 miles per jog/run…my knee pain became too much. Now I have to bike or walk:( My friends are getting ahead in steps, but alas, my true goal is health and to lose weight, not to have more steps. Rest it is!

  • I was reading this article when I got home from the doctor for a strained acl. Since I got my Fitbit my activity level (walking) has increased so much and all I kept thinking about was the amount of steps and how far I had walked I didn’t consider time off. I was only walking so how could you hurt yourself, obviously I was wrong. Now I have to wait for my prescription to end to start back up again at a slower pace. Obviously whatever activity you are doing you must give yourself time to rest. Thanks for the great advice.

  • It might be a good idea if the weekly report from Fitbit didn’t give you negative reinforcement for the day of the week with the least steps. It sort of discourages taking a day off.

  • Thoroughly enjoyed reading your post. We think that the importance of incorporating a rest day into ones training schedule is extremely underrated. It is a common misconception amongst society that it is ‘the more the merrier’ when it comes to exercising but obviously this is not the case. The benefits of having a rest day are not properly known nor are the risks associated with overtraining. In response to the fourth point of Dean’s six simple reasons of the importance of rest, getting inadequate sleep can also have detrimental effects on your ability to properly recover after a series of intense workouts. Just some of the benefits associated with proper sleep include hormonal release, muscular repair and metabolic maintenance.

    Please check out our blog at https://sayyestorest.wordpress.com for further details benefits of rest day. We’re also on Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/sayyestorestday and Twitter: https://twitter.com/sayyestorestday

  • It is funny because everyone thinks that if they do more, they will get better results. Don’t get me wrong, you have to put in effort to your workout program and eating healthy, but it is very true – you need your rest days to replenish your body and repair your muscles.
    Great article.

  • It’s good to see that rest days are important. There is a certain amount of guilt felt by myself if I have a couple of days off from active walking.

  • Fitbit sets goals and it becomes addictive to achieve the burst of dopamine that comes with achieving such, but at what price. If you dont feel like it. Or you feel pain in your joints. Rest please. Alternate to strength training or just rest all together. You may not burn as many calories for that day but you wont burn as if you blow out a knee.

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