Why You Shouldn't Skip Exercise Rest Days

Exercise is critical for staying healthy, but can too much of it be bad for you? The answer is yes. 

Our board-certified orthopedic surgeon, pain management physician, and regenerative medicine physician at Urgently Ortho in Scottsdale, Arizona, all see patients who have developed stress fractures and other types of overuse injuries from working out constantly. 

Perhaps exercise is one of the activities you’ve vowed not to miss during COVID-19; after all, if you do get the virus, being at the peak of health may help you recover faster. 

However, being healthy involves both exercise and rest. It’s important to factor in rest days between workouts that involve weight or resistance training or moderate to intense cardio exercise. Following are good reasons why rest days are essential when you engage in strenuous physical training. 

Soft tissue repair

When you exercise vigorously, whether it’s weight training or aerobic activity, your muscles develop tiny tears. Cells called fibroblasts help make up the connective tissue in your body, including your muscles. A significant function of your fibroblasts is to aid in healing wounds, and that’s exactly what they do during your rest day. These cells repair the tiny tears in your muscles that develop when you engage in strenuous exercise. 

Give your body time to repair itself after you’ve worked it hard. 

Prevent excess fatigue

Our bodies form a type of sugar called glycogen that can be stored in our muscles. Glycogen gives us the energy to engage in robust exercise. However, we can only store so much of it at one time, and it’s easily depleted. 

If you engage in intense aerobic or resistance training workout, whether it’s running, zumba, or weightlifting, you’ll start feeling extreme fatigue when you’ve used up your store of glycogen. If you try to continue beyond your endurance, your blood pressure may drop, causing you to become dizzy or faint. 

Prevent overuse injuries

If you don’t give yourself a rest day between aerobic workouts or sessions of weightlifting, you’re more prone to an overuse injury. Instead of getting stronger, you have to take time off so that your injured joint or soft tissue injury can heal. When you overtrain, your muscles and tendons are at risk of a strain, and your ligaments are at risk of a sprain. 

Prevent accidental injuries

When you’re overtired from too much exercise, you may not be as alert to proper form if you play a sport. If you’re tired and land incorrectly from a jump, you could tear your anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). if you’re excessively tired from working out every day, you place yourself at increased risk for all types of accidents, from stepping in a hole in the pavement to falling asleep at the wheel, because you’re not as alert as you would be otherwise. 

Be sure to factor rest days into your workout regimen, but if you suspect you’ve suffered an oversue injury, call Urgently Ortho for an appointment. You can also send us an online message. Early treatment prevents your injury from worsening and helps you recover faster.

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