The Importance of Rest and Recovery
Are you getting enough rest and recovery?
Health requires more than just nutrition and working out.
Healthy living is a daily challenge to balance eating right, exercising, working, family, personal time, and fun. The hustle and bustle of daily life can make it very difficult to do things right and fit everything, and everyone into it. At some point your mind and body just need a chance to rest and recover. This phase is just as important as your workouts in order to stay healthy, injury free, see performance gains, and reduce the effects of a plateau.
How does exercise affect your body? When exercising, your cells begin demanding more oxygen for energy production and your heart rate increases in order to deliver more blood (and therefore oxygen) to them. Insulin levels will decrease to allow more glucose to be used for energy, and cortisol levels (stress hormone) will increase to help form adrenaline. Our body converts stored energy (Glycogen) into active energy, and those stores become depleted. Macronutrients and hydration also decrease, causing our muscles to breakdown (catabolic state). This leaves the body with weak and depleted. You experience low energy levels, increased muscle soreness, and fatigue. Exercise is all about breaking down your body in order to build it back up stronger than it was before.
How to Recover From a Workout
Nutrient restoration is a big factor in recovery post exercise. Replenishing what was used during exercise and rebuilding your stores of energy will help the process of recovering. Increasing insulin levels helps to decrease stress hormone levels, restore glycogen (stored energy) levels in the liver and muscles, and slows down muscle breakdown. Post workout meals need to be well balanced as each macronutrient improves performance in a specific way. Carbohydrates and fats are energy sources that help fuel the body after workouts. Protein is needed to build, and rebuild, muscle tissue. For best results, begin nutrient replenishment within 30-45 minutes after an intense or prolonged workout.
Many studies have proven that 7-9 hours of sleep is essential for maintaining biochemical balance. This helps to raise growth hormone levels and decrease stress hormones (cortisol). Sleep allows for muscle tissues to recover and for protein synthesis to occur for muscle building. It also allows the nervous system to switch from a “fight or flight” state in exercise to a rest and recover mode.
Active recovery workouts are best utilized following an intense workout. These workouts are a way for you to continue to train without adding more wear and tear on your body. When performing an active recovery day it’s important to increase your heart rate, but not to its maximum rate. Exercises such as walking, swimming, light jogging, and yoga are best for an active recovery workout.
Days of rest:
When training at an intense level with up to 5-7 days a week of heavy lifting and high intensity cardio plans, it’s a good idea to incorporate rest days or rest weeks into your schedule. No matter how well you eat, sleep, or actively recover even elite level athletes require adequate rest and recovery days for optimal and healthy performance. Taking a week off of working out won’t inhibit your performance. In fact, most times you come back refreshed and ready to escalate your training. By neglecting appropriate rest and recovery your chances of injury and illness will increase and you will notice a decline in performance. This is where balanced nutrition and smart, well thought out training programs can help you see the performance and health results you desire!
Are you noticing a decline or plateau in performance, or energy levels?
Contact me any time to schedule a free 15-minute consultation, so we can discuss your particular situation and goals.