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Why are rest days important?

When the weather permits, I jog (or otherwise work-out) every day, but people often tell me I should not, because rest days are important. What is the rationale behind this?

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5 Answers 5

up vote 46 down vote accepted

Evidence shows that more than 5 days a week training increases your risk of musculoskeletal injury.

Rest is physically necessary so that the muscles can repair, rebuild and strengthen -- continuous training can actually weaken it. Without sufficient time to repair, the body will continue to breakdown from intensive exercise.

Overtraining often occurs from a lack of recovery time. Some signs of overtraining are feeling of general malaise, staleness, depression, decreased sports performance and increased risk of injury.

This image from pponline.co.uk explains why you need some rest. enter image description here

Making sure to workout when you're muscles are slightly stronger than before your workout will allow you to literally built up your muscles: enter image description here

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@에이바-I recently took two months off (competitive swimming) due to overtraining and three months later, I am forced to take yet more time off due to overtraining again. Do you think this is the same bout of overtraining, and that I just didn't recover from it fully the first time? Any help would be very much appreciated! –  Bee Jul 17 '12 at 12:03
    
Overtraining, depending on the extent, can take weeks to years to recover from. I know of cases that recovered after 2-3 years. So most probably you did not recover from it the first time. Also, once you do recover, and can go back to practicing, there is a phase in which you should be very careful. You might be able to practice, but to get back to where you were before takes many years. –  Darko Sarovic May 6 at 13:56
    
Now what is that time at after a bout where strength due to supercompensation is at its peak? –  claws Aug 8 at 12:06

Without rest, you will build muscle mass quicker than your supporting organs can build and adjust to enable their proper use. At that point, you will hit a plateau which you will be unable to cross. However, this does not hold true for aerobic exercise, where the Mayo Clinic suggests 30 minutes daily. This is more for muscle building and strength training.

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Supercompensation would be some of the explanation if the goal is to get in better shape.

As I understand it: When the body rests it creates more muscle mass than what was actually destroyed during the exercise.

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It has everything to do with the person. Top athletes train every day, and a lot of hours. Usually, they have spent some years making the body able to withstand a lot of training.

I was the fastest running youth in Norway some years back in 60-200m, and trained about 20 hours a week in the weeks with the most load. That was when between the age of 15 and 18. I had no problems with injuries, but again, this is often individually.

If someone wants to train everyday, like I do, the trick is to have a lot variation in the training. One simple example, just to easily show what I mean is this:

Monday: Running Tuesday: Upper body weightlifting Wednesday: Lower body weightlifting Thursday: Mobility and stretching Friday: Running ...

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I assume this depends on person, as well as speed and duration of the exercise.

Personally, after running few days in a row I get muscles tired: it feels like your legs are filled with lead. Not something you want before a big college competition.

But if you notice no changes in your body, I daresay it's ok. Walking is also an exercise and we do it daily without a problem.

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