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 systems. We 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

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  1. I definitely have a tendency to overdo things. Like running. And biking. And crosstraining!

    But Sunday is my official rest day. The day I don’t do anything sporty. Just to give my body a break.

  2. THANK YOU! I am guilty of doing both things–whenever I see someone running 10-milers on a Saturday morning, I automatically think, “Wow, I should be running,” never mind that I am just not in a good mental head space with running right now and much prefer my new Saturday morning yoga ritual…or just lazing around reading instead. (Even saying that not working out is “lazy” is reinforcing this attitude.) And I definitely connect eating with exercise, although I am getting better about it. I used to just eat and eat at night when I’d been running because I knew I SHOULD be hungry or “COULD” eat more, even if I wasn’t hungry necessarily. Anyways, I try to avoid compensatory attitudes and behaviors. (This is actually one of the avenues I might study in the future in my PhD program—how we rationalize our behavior.)

  3. My trainer gives me crap about this, but for me it’s because I LOVE getting outside and exploring on the weekends. And I love having a day off of structured workouts on the weekend. I have gotten a lot better about it, but I’m not perfect either! :)

  4. I ALWAYS take one full rest day and it involves a whole lot of nothing and I LOVE it. Sometimes I do it on Sundays and somedays I will take it on Monday. I like to do it on a work day when I have a busy schedule and need to focus on my clients more than myself. I used to over-exercise all the time. I am so much better now at fully embracing those do nothing days. They make me happy!

  5. So I take rest days three to four times per week, unless yard work counts as exercise and then it’s two to three rest days a week.
    If I actually work out five days a week, I call that a huge success. When I go to the gym, I like to hit it hard and have a great time, and when I rest, I really do rest. I’m big on a healthy balance and never did understand the workout every day mentality. I don’t think it’s good mentally or physically and will bite you in the long run. I did an entire post on how to take care of yourself when you’re sick and you can bet no working out was a part of it: http://cleaneatsfastfeets.com/2014/03/20/thinking-loud-combat-plague-edition/

    I’m looking forward to meeting you at Blend.

  6. I read a couple of healthy living blogs ( I found yours through someone another one). I often enjoy them but also often stop reading in frustration. It seems like using healthy living lingo is a way to make eating disorders and over exercising habits appear healthy and acceptable. How does using the phrase “clean eating” suddenly make severely restrictive eating and food obsession not an eating disorder? What makes it worse is that those people are writing about it on healthy living blogs! I just can’t read some posts.

  7. Eek! Very convicting. I’m sitting here debating about going BACK to the gym for the second time because I’m not sure I burned enough yet… Yikes :)

    1. I just read the links.. I’m a little un-easy about the over-exercising post. You said, “To maintain a normal healthy state of the body, 2,000-3,500 calories should be burned each week through aerobic exercises, such as running, cycling and the like” I’m pretty sure I don’t burn 2,000 calories a week through cardio. Does that make me unhealthy? I don’t mean to sound rude, just trying to get some more feedback! I’m kind of new to working out and do have a past of an eating disorder and want to learn what’s best for me.

  8. Yes! I take 1-2 rest days per week. I have a friend who hates rest days and feels guilty about them, I’m like, why??? She doesn’t take a full rest day. She goes for walks and stuff even on her rest day. People need to rest! You’re not going to get stronger or healthier if you’re not giving your body what it deserves.

  9. yes, i think we struggle in this area. over or under exercising! honestly, i try listen to what my body needs. And some weeks, i take off 3-4 days and just walk. Movement and honoring the body. well said

  10. Oh Lindsay, I could just hug you right now. I’m the one who is always urging my friends to stop seeing food and exercise as dependent variables…and here I am, two weeks since my last “rest” (aka active rest) day. I’ve been sinking back into obsessive exercising recently, even though I KNOW that I need a rest day for all these reasons and more. I have been weary in body and spirit, but instead of resting I’ve let myself be shamed into just doing more and more.

    Thanks for the reminder and for speaking TRUTH. xo

  11. Great post! I have struggled with feeling bad for taking rest days for years….until I got injured. And then another injury…and another. Then I finally realized that I was doing too too much for my body to handle. Nowadays I take 1-2 rest days a week, usually 2. I also have one or two days where my only “workout” is yoga and it’s not as intense as my lifting days. I think people also don’t think of their activity outside of the gym. I am a college student and so I am walking A LOT during the school semesters. I also work a job where I am on my feet fast-walking and standing for 3-4 hours (a server at an assisted living home). I had to scale down my gym time because of this. I wasn’t able to eat enough to fuel my activity and I was constantly tired and sore.

    These activities outside of the gym add up too, and I think more people need to be aware of the NEAT activity that they do. However, there is still a large population of people who don’t get enough activity, even NEAT, so those should be encouraged to move more. I agree, though, a lot of the HLB community promotes overexercising, whether directly or indirectly. Don’t even get me started on Instagram accounts, especially bodybuilding enthusiasts. It saddens me to see how many people abuse their bodies.

  12. Abso-freakin-lutely! Couldn’t agree more. I take a solid rest day on Sunday, and then one other day during the week is usually an active rest day. Sometimes another active/solid rest day happens in there too. Just depends on how the week goes and how I’m feelin’!

  13. Completely 10000% agree!! My rest day tends to be Sunday and it just feels so fitting a day to take a rest day, in many ways, and it sets me off right for the week. if I have ever not had that full rest day (on the VERY rare occasion that I teach on a Sunday, for example), and it becomes more of an unavoidable rest day (since I teach daily pretty much), I definitely feel the difference by the end of the week. Our bodies need rest, full rest, not active rest, even. And I love what you say about connecting food with exercise – separate, separate, separate!!! xo

  14. Preach! I take every Sunday off as well, although I do go through phases (like now) when I struggle with taking more than one rest day of week, even if time or energy is lacking. Something I’m working on! I feel like everyone is so focused on getting people to work out (period), that those of us who actually enjoy working out get caught up in that. More is NOT always better!