Welcome to day 5 of LIVESTRONG.COM's 30-Day Get Strong in 2019 Challenge. You've been working hard, but even champions know when it's time to take a break.
Look at you! You're moving full steam ahead on your fitness journey. You've been eating clean and tracking your progress. You're checking your macros and hydrating like a champ. But even champions know that it's necessary to take a break. They're called rest days.
Rest days are an important part of your transformation. Give yourself at least one rest day every week to allow your body to repair and help prevent injury. The more you push your body to handle more strenuous physical activity, the more you need a rest day.
Why You Need Rest Days
Aside from just needing a mental break from pushing yourself in the gym, if you're doing something strenuous like weightlifting or running, you're causing micro-tears to your muscles. Your body needs a rest day to repair, rebuild and come back stronger.
Even if you're not doing a high-impact workout, if you never rest, you won't see any progress and you'll risk over-training, which comes with some nasty side effects like trouble sleeping, reduced motivation, constant muscle soreness and depression.
However, don't embrace your former couch-potato side and translate "rest day" as a full day of lying around the house. Consider your rest day as a day without the challenge of strenuous exercise — not a day without any physical activity at all.
You want the benefit of circulation to deliver nutrients to your muscles, and movement enhances circulation. Lounging on the couch for 12 hours does not (sorry!).
Read more: How to Eat Healthy on Exercise Rest Days
5 Low-Key Ideas for Enjoying a Rest Day
1. Walk It Out
One of the best and easiest ways to get your heart rate up just enough to pump extra blood to your achy muscles is to take a nice, leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. You'll have a chance to breathe in the fresh air, take in the scenery and maybe even tackle a hill or two. Plus, it's free! Bonus points for taking your kid(s) or pet(s) with you.
2. Play Like a Kid
Unleash your inner child and clock some quality time enjoying the beauty of a local park. You can opt to just walk the paths through the park or grab some friends for an old-school bout of frisbee or a pick-up basketball game and some friendly competition.
3. Stretch Those Tired Muscles
Sometimes, what your over-worked muscles really need is a good stretch session. Lengthen and loosen your muscles with an easy yoga class (like a level one Yin or Hatha class) or do some stretches on your own. Here are some good ones to get you started:
- 11 Stretches Almost Everyone Can Do
- 10 Stretches That Will Make You Feel Like a New Person
- The Best Stretches to Avoid Injury in Your Favorite Sports
4. Get All Kinds of Zen
If your rest day is Sunday, it's the perfect opportunity to reset and recenter yourself for the coming week. Indulge in some restorative yoga or Tai Chi. The gentle stretches and movement combined with meditation will help your body and your mind.
5. Foam Home
Put your foam roller to good use while enjoying some TV. Place the roller under the muscles that hurt the most (soreness hurt, not injury hurt) — quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and shoulders are good places to start. And then roll back and forth over the roller, stopping and focusing on any area that seems especially tight.
You're doing great, but give yourself a break — knowing that you'll be back in your regular groove tomorrow, ready to crush it all over again!
Fine Tune Your Rest-Day Strategy
Whether you're itching to get back to the gym or totally indulging in the beauty that is rest day, here's some more helpful information to
- Top 10 Moves to Help You Recover From Your Workout
- 8 Amazing Products to Help You Recover After Workouts
- Can Walking Be Enough To Reduce Obesity in America?
- 10 Weight-Loss Rules You're Allowed to Break
How to Join the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge
Are you a part of the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge yet? If not, here are four easy steps to make sure you're on your way to getting stronger this year.
1. Sign Up for Daily Emails
There are two main places this challenge is taking place online — your inbox and our Facebook group (more on that in a second). So first, make sure you've entered your email to sign up for the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge. (Yep, even if you're already signed up for our regular daily newsletter.)
Every day, we'll be sending you your daily workout and a healthy recipe to try, along with fun extras like workout playlists, motivational quotes, self-care tips and other fitness and nutrition information to make 2019 your best (and healthiest) year ever!
2. Print Out Your Calendars
Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge, you're accountable for two main things: working out and eating healthy.
To help keep you on track for the entire month, we created two calendars — one with each day's workouts listed and another with each week's nutrition goal and healthy recipes. Print them out and check off each workout and day of healthy eating as you complete it.
3. Join Our Challenge Facebook Group
For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the Get Strong in 2019 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.
4. Share Your Journey on Social Media
Are you on Instagram or Twitter? So are we! And we'd love to see photos and updates of your progress. When you post to social media, be sure to use the hashtag #GetStrongChallenge. That way, you can also connect with other Get Strong challengers!