Congratulations! You’re moving full steam ahead on your fitness journey. You’ve been eating clean and tracking your progress. You’re checking your macros and hydrating like a champ. But even champions know that it’s necessary to take a break. They’re called rest days.
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Rest days are an important part of your transformation. Give yourself at least one rest day every week to allow your body to repair and help prevent injury. The more you push your body to handle more strenuous physical activity, the more you need a rest day.
Why You Need Rest Days
Aside from just needing a mental break from pushing yourself in the gym, if you're doing something strenuous like weightlifting or running, you're causing micro-tears to your muscles. Your body needs a rest day to repair, rebuild and come back stronger.
Even if you're not doing a high-impact workout, if you never rest, you won't see any progress and you'll risk over-training, which comes with some nasty side effects like trouble sleeping, reduced motivation, constant muscle soreness and depression.
However, don’t embrace your former couch-potato side and translate "rest day" as a full day of lying around the house. Consider your rest day as a day without the challenge of strenuous exercise — not a day without any physical activity at all.
You want the benefit of circulation to deliver nutrients to your muscles, and movement enhances circulation. Lounging on the couch for 12 hours does not (sorry!).
5 Low-Key Ideas for Enjoying a Rest Day
1. Walk It Out
One of the best and easiest ways to get your heart rate up just enough to pump extra blood to your achy muscles is to take a nice, leisurely stroll around the neighborhood. You'll have a chance to breathe in the fresh air, take in the scenery and maybe even tackle a hill or two. Plus, it's free! Bonus points for taking your kid(s) or pet(s) with you.
2. Play Like a Kid
Unleash your inner child and clock some quality time enjoying the beauty of a local park. You can opt to just walk the paths through the park or grab some friends for an old-school bout of frisbee or a pick-up basketball game and some friendly competition.
3. Stretch Those Tired Muscles
Sometimes, what your over-worked muscles really need is a good stretch session. Lengthen and loosen your muscles with an easy yoga class (like a level one Yin or Hatha class) or do some stretches on your own. Here are some good ones to get you started:
4. Get All Kinds of Zen
If your rest day is Sunday, it's the perfect opportunity to reset and recenter yourself for the coming week. Indulge in some restorative yoga or Tai Chi. The gentle stretches and movement combined with meditation will help your body and your mind.
5. Foam Home
Put your foam roller to good use while enjoying some TV. Place the roller under the muscles that hurt the most (soreness hurt, not injury hurt) — quads, hamstrings, glutes, calves and shoulders are good places to start. And then roll back and forth over the roller, stopping and focusing on any area that seems especially tight.
You’re doing great, but give yourself a break — knowing that you’ll be back in your regular groove tomorrow, ready to crush it all over again!
How to Join the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge
1. Download the MyPlate App
Documenting your food and activity might seem like overkill, but it’s not. People who track their calories and physical activities enjoy greater success losing weight and keeping it off for good!
Tracking everything honestly is essential to making the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge work for you. Sometimes you’re not even aware of everything you consume, but once you start tracking it, you’ll think twice before you make poor choices. And that’s a good thing.
- Daily meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and snacks
- Exercise and activity
- BMI (Body Mass Index)
2. Print Out Your Daily Calendar
Isn't it so satisfying to check things off of your to-do list? Each day during the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge, you're accountable for five key steps: tracking breakfast, lunch and dinner; tracking your water intake; and either walking or running.
We created a helpful calendar to keep you on task for all 30 days. Print it out and check off each activity as soon as you complete it.
3. Stay Connected on Facebook
For daily support, motivation and camaraderie with LIVESTRONG.COM team members, join our Facebook Group for the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge. We'll share recipes, tips, motivations, pictures and more! Plus, we'll answer all your questions.
4. Fine Tune Your Rest-Day Strategy
- Top 10 Moves to Help You Recover From Your Workout
- 8 Amazing Products to Help You Recover After Workouts
- Can Walking Be Enough To Reduce Obesity in America?
- 10 Weight-Loss Rules You're Allowed to Break
Readers — Are you joining us in the 30-Day Get Lean in 2018 Challenge? If so, what's your weight-loss goal? Have you ever done a weight-loss challenge group before? How did it go for you? Have you joined our LIVESTRONG.COM Challenge Group on Facebook? Leave a comment below and let us know.