the importance of rest

I’m going to make this short and sweet because A) it’s Friday and who wants to read a long blog post on Friday, B) I have no time to write as I’ve AGAIN backed myself into a corner of being overbooked, and C) what I have to say today *should* be common knowledge already.

*Except that it isn’t.

I simply must speak up about something I see so prevalent around the healthy living blogging community, as well as at my gym.  WE’RE NEGLECTING OUR BODIES BY OVERWORKING THEM.  And sadly, we do so in the name of “healthy living”, broadcasting our over-exercise on Instagram and our blogs.  As someone who has suffered from years of over-exercising and who is just now understanding the impact of what that’s done to my body, I can’t keep quiet any longer.


If you’re not taking a SOLID rest day** at least once per week, you’re hurting your body.

**I don’t mean an “active rest” day where you cross train and go hiking or walking instead of what you normally do.  A rest day is one in which we put little to no stress on our central nervous systemsWe REST.

Neglecting to take regular, habitual rest days will likely lead to injury, a feeling of being “burned out”, and can hinder performance.  After properly resting, our bodies are better able to perform athletically and think critically – so in essence, doing nothing will help you be able to DO better!

I believe that TWO THINGS get in the way of us treating our bodies to the rest day(s) that they deserve.

1) We connect EATING with EXERCISING – two things that should be kept separate (aside from fueling purposes).  We count the calories we burn while working out and connect that to our intake of food later in the day.  How many times have you rationalized eating a donut just because you ran that day?  What if you COULDN’T run anymore (or, as I’m trying to show in this post, you had to take a few rest days)?  Would your eating habits change?

2) We COMPARE and CONTRAST.  “I was going to take a rest day until I saw so-and-so’s post on Instagram.”  “She’s working out harder than me!”  “She doesn’t feel good but she’s “sweating out” a cold.  I should do that!”  <-This is a post for an entirely different day, but infuriates me nonetheless.  There is no such thing as “sweating out” an illness – bobbycosh!  You should be resting your CNS – trust me, you’ll heal much quicker through REST!


Next time you feel burnt out or you just want to take day off from exercising, DO IT!  Realize that this isn’t a free pass for you to sit on your butt (something that is highly unlikely for most of the audience I’m speaking too), but rather a plea for us all to start honoring our bodies (mind, muscle, bone) that do so much for us.  You can honor through exercise and you can honor through rest.  Both are equally important.


QUESTION:  How often do you take rest days?  <-I completely rest every Sunday.  Do you struggle with over-exercising?  Under-exercising?


Resources you might find interesting:

What IS over-exercising?

REST: Ways to Improve Performance

Join the Conversation


Your email address will not be published.

  1. Every 7th day is the day prescribed “in the beginning” for rest! And it is AWESOME to enter into that rest … body, mind and spirit! Great post.

  2. Pingback: Link Love 8/6 |
  3. I used to struggle with taking rest days. I am actively trying to lose weight so I had the very strong connection that you mentioned of food and working out. After awhile of running myself to death (literally — I was running then), my body finally gave out on me and I couldn’t work out for two weeks. I changed my way of thinking (I’m working on it actually) and have got much better about rest days. I completely rest on Sundays. I have found that I actually lose at least a pound after a “complete rest” day!

  4. I am working (in my head….one day on the blog) on a post about my change in perspective on exercise. It’s something I’m still working on–taking a day off is really hard (“active rest” not as much), for all the reasons you said explicitly, or implied. However, I have relaxed a bunch–even in just the past few weeks–about what I ‘should’ be doing to exercise and what I actually WANT to do.

    Anyways, more to come…but love this. I am going to try to follow your advice.

  5. About half way through my journey to lose 100 pounds, I hit a plateau. It lasted forever (it felt like it) and I thought if I exercised MORE then I’d lose weight. But instead I got burned out and was over training and did not lose weight. It was then I vowed to always take 2 rest days a week no matter what. It’s been about 6 years since then and I still incorporate 2 days a week of rest!

  6. LOVE! I learned this the hard way when I was young. Now I take 2 days off per week.. no hard core anything, no core work, nothing but enjoy & active rest I guess is if I am out & about & just walking around enjoying. :)

  7. I don’t plan rest days. I just take them when I need them. Usually one or two a week. Sometimes the whole damn week. :) Our bodies don’t forget how to move if we take a break. I usually feel stronger AFTER resting, anyway. And I’m weird in that I don’t work out to “burn” calories— I actually usually have my “treats” (I hate calling any food a treat or “bad”, by the way haha) on the days where I skip workouts. Because -you’re right- they have nothing to do with each other!

  8. Resting Sat & Sun this week! I really wanted to go to the gym yesterday, but I was so sore and burnt out. So I stayed home and cleaned which was a workout in itself!!! haha

  9. Beautifully written! I am not working out to the extent that I am comfortable with ( I take 2 rest days a week) since I’m traveling with Tony for his convention season. I’m exhausted, overworked and running low on fuel. I think we seriously have a problem in our community with not taking the time to just rest and relax. Stop competing with others! It can only hurt you. I hope you’re enjoying your rest my friend!

  10. agreed! i can’t stand people who try to exercise out an illness – i don’t even have the energy to get out of bed..there’s no way that can actually be healthy! i usually take 2 rest days a week…sometimes 1 full rest day and 1 day of walking or something else light. i need my rest days, even to mentally unwind and have nothing to do.

  11. You said it! I firmly believe that social media has a negative impact on those of us who already exercise enough. We see all those posts about double workout days (DOUBLE WORKOUT DAYS???) and think that our short, 30 minute workout is inadequate.

    I happy rest 2 days per week as I know that between my workouts, my group fitness classes and training clients I get plenty of exercise! (besides, I like to knit too…)

  12. AMEN & amen. I completely REST every Sunday–and literally sit on my butt or take a nap all day long. It’s fantastic! And allows me to move well during the week. I sometimes take saturday as an active rest day too -depends on the week!

  13. Amen! #2 is especially relevant. Sometimes when I’m taking a rest day and I see all the hard work being done on Instagram, I feel insanely guilty over not having done anything. I know that’s crazy, but I think it happens more often than we’d all care to admit.

  14. I rest at least twice a week. This week was extra hectic, so I rested 2 days but packed up our kitchen and moved boxes so I guess maybe I’d call that an extra half rest day. I have finally come to terms over the past 9 months I can take off weeks at a time if I’m stressed, have a family illness, just not feeling it, etc and I’ll BE OKAY. I used to think I’d gain weight, plateau or go backwards. So happy I’ve learned to just be.

    I find people who work out 7 days a week or do double workouts don’t put forth half of the effort I feel like they should. If they worked out to their full capability 4-5 days a week they’d probably find themselves in the gym half as much. My opinion though.

    Have a good weekend :)

  15. Normally I have at least one rest day a week. I’ll admit I may do some Yin Yoga on that day, but otherwise I rest. But right now I’m in an intense month were there is not much rest scheduled. When this “month” ends (in 3 weeks), I will take a week of rest (maybe lots of yoga), before ramping back up. I think it’s also good to think in cycles. There should be times when your workouts are keyed down. I do think this month is going to takes it toll on me, but I am trying to squeeze in extra naps and time laying by the pool.

  16. I used to exercise 7 days a week, especially when I was in college and had the extra time (class gets out at 2 pm, why not spend the afternoon in the gym?), but now I’m busier, and exhausted from working and taking care of a home, so I don’t put as much pressure on myself. Now, I work out closer to 4 days per week. I know this doesn’t seem like much in the blog world, but I try not to compare. Sometimes, sleep is more important than a trip to the gym, and that’s just fine with me.

  17. I just love you.

    What I really hate is when people make comments about eating the same on rest days as they do on “non-rest” days. Totally agree with separating eating and exercise! I’ve seen the problems that over-exercising cause for my parents…pains, surgeries, arthritis, autoimmune problems, etc. Not gonna lie, over-exercising is a fine line for me (that ED is never completely gone!), but I’m learning to respect myself and stop comparing!

  18. Such an amazing post.
    I no longer struggle with over-exercise but will always have to “stand guard.”

    I LOVE how you emphasize what a TRUE rest day is. I real lots of blogs and on their rest days they do things like go for 45 minute walks with their dog or do a yoga dvd and then the comparison sets in and I’m like… but wait! 45 minute walk is what I do for exercise period!
    Not to say that they are overexercising but just very… very.. active.

  19. I never plan rest days, but I don’t exercise systematically. It’s more like, “hm, how do I feel like moving today? A spin class? Weight lifting? A walk?” And, when I don’t feel like moving, I don’t! I usually rest two days per week, but I also walk to/from school 5x/week so I always count that as a little extra activity!

  20. I was taking a ton of rest days (like 2-3 a week) and now I’m trying to get to a place where I am in the habit of moving every day (no rest), but not pushing myself super hard every day (lighter days a week). In a month or so, I’ll drop back to 1-2 days a week of complete rest, but until then I’m doing active rest (no more than 1 mile of running or lighter work on those days). It’s something I need to do right now, but not something I’m going to sustain. I seriously believe in full rest days.

    I’ve (finally) worked past equating moving with eating, and am a bit stuck on comparison. I’m working away from it, but it’s pretty hard since I’m super competitive.

  21. I’m confused… you say not to take an “active rest” day (like walking) but then you say not to sit on your butt for rest day?? So what is a “rest day” suppose to be like?

    I guess my rest day is considered active then because I do either a nice yoga stretch routine or an easy slow paced walk or some house or yard work.

    I have come a long ways from my over-exercising days but I just can’t seem to be completely still for a day – besides that I seem to eat more if I’m just sitting around.

  22. Amen. I totally agree. I take a solid rest day where I don’t do a lot of anything (usually a Sunday, if I can). No workout at all, no long walks or anything. Just chillin’.

    And if I really don’t feel a workout or I’m crazy sore, I don’t push myself to work harder when my body is for sure saying “please let me recover.” Thanks for posting this!

  23. I LOVE this post! I recently wrote about being burnt out from not taking care of my body- with stress from work/personal life and workouts, I was so fatigued and had no desire to workout. Rest- true rest- really helped! And after a nice relaxing vaca in Mexico – where I didn’t workout once!! Shock!- I came back truly rested and banged out awesome workouts the whole week! Plus, my body looked better and I feel better! Thanks for the reminder that rest is so so important, just as eating right and exercising!

  24. I love this post so much Lindsay. I rationally know the importance of taking rest days but also know that when it comes down to it, I have a hard time taking a complete rest day. I mean, I should rest today because I have word to do and I have two big blisters on the bottom of my feet but what am I doing instead? Thinking about how I can squeeze in a workout somewhere somehow. Not good. You’re so right about the connection between food and exercise – I think that’s a huge part and then social media just amplifies it all.

  25. i take rest days as needed… sometimes itz twice per week, sometimes itz none. that being said, i don’t go balls to the wall every workout.. and as of lately, i haven’t had many high intensity workouts.. so sometimes my “rest” days are just walks outside :) honoring your body is so very important!

  26. I take a rest day at least once a week. I do feel uneasy about resting when I could take a quick run or mix in some yoga but I know I need the rest to make my body a happy, healthier place. Thank you for htis post…I agree with every word! :)

  27. I used to try to go go go, little rest. It caused internal stress and lots which lead to many other physical ailments. God restored me. Thankful.

    Separating food and exercise, yes. That is KEY.