If you’re a regularly active person, then you know what it’s like to catch the workout bug and feel guilty if you skip a day. It’s a great bug to catch when you need that extra boost to turn working out into a regular part of your life. It’s not so great when you start to suffer from chronic physical pain or feel burnt out instead of energized from your workouts. More is not always better. With so much emphasis on working out and getting into shape, it’s easy to forget that our bodies sometimes need a break. With a proper break, going back to working out becomes even more enjoyable and efficient.
Here are three signs your body could use a break:
1. You are always sore or in pain. This may seem like a no-brainer, but the “no pain, no gain” mentality is grilled into so many active people’s minds. I was one of them. When I was training as a professional dancer, I not only danced at least three hours a day, but I also weight lifted and did Pilates several times a week. I tried to be in the best shape of my life, but at what cost? I now have tendonitis in my hips, a toe that constantly aches (even after three cortisone shots), and chronic back pain. All of these ailments now prevent me from continuing to be in “the best shape of my life” after I stopped dancing. When I was in pain or injured, my belief was that I had to push through the pain so as not to lose a day of training and fall behind. If you are injured, even if the injury seems small at the time, take the time to rest and allow your body to properly heal itself. It’s not worth the long-term damage and pain in the future. Adequate rest allows your body to repair itself so that you can go back to your activities fully functioning. It’s way more effective than trying to work half broken.
2. You are getting sick a lot. Physically overworking our bodies weakens our immune system, making us more susceptible to catching viruses and making it harder to fight infections. It’s good to push yourself to achieve results, but not at the price of your health and well-being. I’ll never forget the time I had bronchitis for six months. I was training every day and working a full schedule. I figured working out and staying physically active was going to make me stronger, but, in fact, it was making my condition worse. Finding that balance is key. When you’ve gone too far, your body will be screaming at you. In my case, a two-day break wasn’t enough. I needed to take weeks off to fully recover and build my immune system back up.
3. You are constantly tired and unmotivated. You’ll know when you need a break when working out no longer gives you a boost in your mood or energy. When you are always putting stress on your body, it has the same effect as constant mental and emotional stress. Dragging our feet to the gym is the last thing we need when we’re physically or mentally exhausted. A break from working out might be necessary to allowing those cortisol levels drop and getting a pep back in your step. Maybe you’ll realize you don’t need to be at the gym every day you want to be active. In addition to rest days, replacing a gym day with an outdoor hike or bike ride will keep you active without nearly as much stress on your body.
Our bodies are smart and will give us signs when we need to take a break. We just need to listen. Make the changes necessary to keep the journey towards your fitness goals healthy, enjoyable, and rewarding.
What signs has your body given you when it’s time to take a break from working out?
Also by Crystal: How a Sugar-Free Diet Changed My Life
Related: When to Take a Break from Yoga–A Teacher’s Perspective
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Photo: Crystal Chin