“And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy because it was the day when He rested from all His work of creation.”
This familiar verse from Genesis is just one of the many in the Bible that decree the virtues of rest. From Matthew to Revelation, the scripture is filled with references to the necessity of taking a much-needed break from physical – and mental – work.
In fact, rest is so important it’s one of the foundations of our CREATION Health model. Beyond its ability to replenish to the body, mind, and spirit after a long day’s work, rest has the power to reduce stress, lower blood pressure and provide even more health benefits that we are just beginning to discover through science.
When it comes to exercise, rest is just as powerful. Physicians emphasize the importance of building rest days into our fitness schedules to help the body properly recover. That’s because the physical benefits of exercise happen after the workout, rather than during it.
Here’s how it works: intense workouts trigger an inflammatory response (by its very nature, exercise inflicts a tremendous amount of stress on the body). If you push yourself too hard while the body is still in this recovery mode, it can lower your immune system and leave you susceptible to germs and illness.
The prescription: pencil in active rest days to give your body a chance to regroup and bounce back.
But active recovery isn’t carte blanche to veg out on the couch all day. Doctors and trainers recommend easier, lower-intensity workouts like yoga or light jogging that use less than 70 percent of your maximum effort.
Exercises like these boost circulation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to your muscles and flushing the tissues of metabolic waste that builds up after a big workout.
Active rest looks different for different types of exercise. If you’re a runner training for a marathon, for example, alternate race-pace runs with easy jogs. If you’re into lifting weights, incorporate relaxing Hatha yoga or bodyweight exercises. This will keep your muscles engaged, but give them a well-deserved break by using them in a different way.
Rest truly does a body good. So, take action in incorporating some time to rejuvenate your body as you work hard to keep it fit, healthy and whole.