In a world where there is an increasing awareness of fitness and the importance of workout in staying healthy, some people are naturally over the top.
We have created terms like ‘gym rats’, those special breed of people who are always at the gym come rain, come shine. They are the gym mirrors, permanent fixtures at the gym, showing us their muscles and espousing the gospel of workout. However, very few fitness enthusiasts talk about the importance of rest.
During workout, the human body needs to take some time off to rest and recover from the tears inflicted on the muscles by lifting weights. Recovery includes but is not limited to hydration, stretching and so on.
In as much as we like to imagine the human body as strong and capable of adapting to anything, and while this is true, the body needs time to adapt to the stress and exertion caused by exercise. Ironically, no matter how much work you put in at the gym, the real rewards of your efforts only begin to take place when your body is at rest.
There are generally two broad divisions of recovery – the short term recovery, and the long term recovery. The short term recovery is generally the kind which comes after a particularly rigorous workout session. The long term recovery is favoured by professional athletes who take time off their workout regimes at periods within the year to fully recover. An example of a well regulated weekly casual exercise routine is a 30-minute daily workout session from Monday to Friday with a recovery break from Saturday to Sunday.
New age fitness enthusiasts have championed the concept of active recovery – a process where following an intense workout, a person engages in light exercise as opposed to total rest.
Rest and recovery are critical components of any effective fitness regimen, as well as structuring and sticking to a diet which will also help the body to maximize blood flow and recover quickly. Post exercise meals make the difference between getting results or not – this is because the human body synthesizes proteins during workouts and these proteins must be replenished. The pre-exercise meal must also not be under emphasized, eating poorly can drastically affect performance and prevent optimum performance.
Hydration too is as important as diet in recovery. It involves replenishing the body with fluids, many of which are lost during workouts. Water works a real treat for fitness enthusiasts and athletes. There is simply no such thing as having too much water!
It must also be mentioned that sleep is a crucial part of any fitness regimen and six to seven hours of sleep daily surely gives your body a boost. If you are going to be hitting the gym hard during the week, you best be hitting your mattress hard during the weekend for some heavy duty rest. Sleep deprivation is harmful to people who spend long hours working out as it has the long term effect of affecting the body’s hormonal balance.
Just like most of us, we understand the importance of rest to high performance but sometimes we cannot help but feel a pang of guilt whenever we take a day off.
Alright fitness enthusiasts, go into the gym, get out and be sure you do not forget to recover!