I cannot say it enough, rest, is important. Rest is where the magic really happens. Rest is where our body does the work. Rest is our regulator, our memory, maker, and our mood modulator. Rest is where we grow and rest is not optional.
When we are talking about rest in relation to exercise there are a few things that may or may not pop up in your mind. For one thing we rest between intervals, sets, exercises. This allows us to catch our breath, our blood to flow without quite so much constriction, our waste to be removed from the working muscles, etc.
Then there are our rest days. These are the days when we take a load off and hang out. The day we don't go for our morning run or meet our bestie for HOT HIIT (Yes, that is a thing, as if High Intensity Intervals weren't enough already, now you can do them in the comfort of a hot studio. Needless to say I'm very interested to try it!). Rest days are in place to allow your body and mind to heal. Heal? Yes, heal. Because when we workout we are creating tiny little microfractures and micro-tears to our bone and muscle. No, there's no need to be alarmed, it's just the way the system works and when we give our bodies proper fuel and rest it heals even stronger than it was before. It's really pretty cool!
Rest, specifically sleep, is also incredibly important. When we sleep our bodies are literally put on the charger and all the ins and outs of our every system are restocked and restored. Trying to lose weight? Well, you had better get your sleep because that's the time when the hormone Leptin is produced and Leptin my friends is responsible for regulating hunger and therefore, how much we eat. I don't know about you but when I am over tired I could eat a house and Leptin isn't alone, there are a whole bunch of other proteins and hormones that all work together to manage how our bodies respond to food, exercise, etc. If you'd like to read a brainy article about Leptin: here you go!
Now, we have an honorable mention, mood. When we are not well rested we are more likely to be a bit more moody than usual. This can throw off our desire to stick to our plans, be pleasant to our fellow exercisers, and cause fights in the family. I've personally sabotaged more than a few workout sessions with my sleep deprived bad mood picking fights with my husband. So, don't skip rest days and don't skip sleep! Currently I'm reading about some really interesting findings on how lack of sleep makes us more susceptible to certain disease states and it's no joke!
How can we help you rest today? Well, here are a few of my go-tos:
-Diffuse Lavender, Serenity, or Petitgrain Essential Oils
-Eat a well balanced diet during the day with lots of fresh water
-Exercise! Of course ;-)
-Meditation, Prayer, Sacred Quiet Time. Here's a nice piece on WHY Meditation works.
-Want some ideas as to what to do on your rest days to help prepare you for your next workout? Here are 9, but I bet you can come up with some pretty fantastic ones of your own, do share in the comments!
Find YOUR Fit
So, there are 4 different types of exercise and you can read about them here. They include Stretching, Strength Training, Aerobics, and Balance. They are all equally important and Harvard can tell you all about why, but what I want to talk to you about today is finding what works best for YOU.
Some people LOVE running while others LOATH it and often the thought is that we SHOULD like something because we believe it is good for us; but that doesn't really help so much with actually getting on the treadmill...
So, let's take a moment and reflect on activities that we DO like, maybe things we have done in the past as kids or something we saw in the park and it sparked a bit of curiosity. Next let's take the judgement out of it. There is a lot of pressure to do what someone (or an inner voice) tells us to do and we need to take the time to allow ourselves to observe outside of any judgement that may be passing through. If it does pop up, "oh come on, that's ridiculous, there's no way you can do that," just recognize it for what it is and allow it to move on along.
Next, let's at the same time, be open to all the possibilities. For instance, I seriously disliked Yoga for YEARS, that is until I got real darn sick with Lyme. Now, my case was no walk in the park and I'm still working on rebuilding my immune system and while I can exercise quite a bit now, running and biking are still out. Last winter I was still feeling a bit under the weather but not so much that I felt I could just forgo all exercise so I dipped my toe into Yoga again. It has been life changing. My body is so much stronger and my mind is really feeling the perks as well. Something that I once avoided has become my hands down go to.
Now that we are allowing ourselves to dream a bit, removing the judgement (yes, yes you can start practicing the circus arts and no, people are not going to think you're crazy, trust me.), and being open to things even if you think you might not like them; let's look at some choices!
You have Choices in Movement:
*Personal Training (make it what you love!)
*Gardening, yes, I said gardening, do it right and it absolutely counts
*Online Classes of all kinds (there's nothing like working out in the comfort of your own home)
When you are trying to decide how best to become active, be gentle with yourself, be kind, release judgement, and go slow. It's all a process and it can be an enjoyable one if you let it!
Keep me posted! What exercise styles or classes have you tried? Do you think you've found something you love?!
I am an Exercise Physiologist and mother of two lovely ladies. I love teaching my community about health and wellness and I love helping likeminded people implement natural solutions into their everyday lives.