The Importance of Rest in a Workout Program

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A woman resting.

For fitness junkies, the hardest part of a workout routine is often getting enough rest. A day spent away from the gym, whether it's relaxing on the couch or sitting in the office, can leave you restless and eager to get your blood pumping.

This holds especially true when it comes to injuries. Despite the urge to exercise, however, taking time off is critical when it comes to recovery.

Types of Injuries

According to Dr. Scott Quinby, without proper rest, people are much more likely to have both acute or overuse injuries.

"An acute injury would be something such as a muscle strain or pull," says Quinby, who helps clients prevent sports-related injuries as the medical director of the Baylor SportsCare program at Baylor Scott and White Health. "An overuse injury would be something in the realm of a stress fracture."

The difference?

Acute injuries result in setbacks to training schedules, while overuse injuries force a change to an entire fitness program. Any metabolic changes that occur with exercise can take time to get corrected. Rest allows athletes to get the body back to its baseline.

"As far as metabolism goes, your body needs to get things such as electrolytes in order so you can refuel your tanks," Quinby says.

More: Sports Therapy: 3 Ways to Rehab an Injury

Incorporating Rest

It's important to not just rest when an injury occurs. Rest should be a part of everyone's workout schedule in an effort to prevent future problems.

One key to injury prevention is to add regular rest days to a fitness routine. The number of days depends on what sport you're competing in or what your health goals are. Typically, it's recommended to get at least 1 to 2 days of rest per week.

More: 9 Things for Athletes to Do on a Rest Day