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Rest and Recovery

woman-sleepingMany of us walk around like zombies, in a sleep-deprived haze. We’re up early to get out the door to school or work; we stay up late catching up on household tasks or dealing with our email in-boxes. Or maybe Facebook… (Oops, guilty!)

We should aim for 7 – 8 hours of sleep most nights, though we often get 6 hours or less. But getting more sleep isn’t the only kind of rest and recovery we may be neglecting. We need to build recovery into our workout schedule too.

Why are rest and recovery so important?

During your workout you’re breaking down muscle tissue and putting stress on bones, ligaments and tendons. When you exercise you create micro-tears in your muscles that must be given a chance to heal. That healing allows for muscle growth. The strain to bones and supportive ligaments and tendons takes a bit longer to heal but is no less important.

To build a stronger, leaner body you must work it hard, but then you allow time to rest and recover.

Physical recuperation – in the form of proper rest, balanced nutrition, adequate hydration, muscular and skeletal recovery – will help you avoid overuse injuries, illness brought on by a compromised immune system, and fatigue.

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Mental recovery is equally important. The zeal we all witness in the gym every January nose-dives partly because of unrealistic expectations and all-or-nothing thinking that doesn’t allow for natural ebbs in energy levels.

You don’t need to set out to kill it every day. In fact, please don’t! Both your body and your mind need “active rest” days (think yoga, stretching, walking) and total rest days. (Hello, massage!)

If you’re over 25 you’ve probably already discovered that we don’t bounce back from a tough workout the same way we once did. Certainly those of us (a tad) over 40 need additional time to recover post-workout, and because of hormonal differences, women recover slower than do men. Such is life, and pass me the lavender-scented eye mask. Oh darn!

And one quick word about sore muscles, or what is technically called “delayed onset muscle soreness” (DOMS): despite how you may feel, nobody ever died from this. If you are sore, congratulations! You just figured out which muscles you previously hadn’t been working hard enough. It’s called “delayed” onset muscle soreness because, as anybody who’s ever overdone it will tell you, it’s worst 24-48 hours after the workout.

Work out the kinks with a foam roller:


Rest up for a day, but then jump back in and get at it!

Sore muscles are your body’s way of saying you need to do it again!

Adequate rest and recovery actually enhance both athletic performance and weight loss. Your body needs time to adapt to the stressors of working out more frequently and with greater intensity. Your weight loss efforts will be enhanced by a balanced approach that allows for more exercise but also for well-earned recuperation.

Losing weight is hard, but tuning into your body and giving it the rest and recovery it needs makes it so much easier. And you’re so damn worth it!

Let’s go get it!

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