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Dr Russ Blog - Exercise - Do You Need Rest Days?
Exercise - Do You Need Rest Days?
Created on 2/7/2013

Chris sent in a good question about exercise - he asks whether rest periods are a necessary part of a healthy fitness program.

I think it's important to know one's limitations, especially when offering advice. I am not a fitness trainer or physical therapist, but I know some very good ones and I know where to look for credible answers. In this instance, a good place to go is the web site for the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) -

It appears that rest periods are actually very important, especially for those of us who are just getting back into exercise or who have only been exercising regularly for a few weeks. Allowing specific muscle groups the chance to rest after being exercised gives them the best chance to recover, be prepared for being worked again, and improve their overall functioning.

In addition, taking a day or two break before exercising the same muscle group again can help prevent injury.

Some fitness experts also promote the idea that resting muscles DURING your workout (2-3 minutes between reps, for example) can also help support optimal fitness and safety. Check out this article for more information -

A combination of cardiovascular fitness (walking, running, biking and swimming) together with some weight training is a good program for most. A great way to get started? Splurge and meet with a personalized fitness trainer for 4 weeks, then drop the trainer - but the keep the time. This way you'll have a personalized program to follow that addresses goals and limitations, and you will have set aside time to continue your exercise program.

One last word about rest - a day or two is good as long as you're not in pain. If there is discomfort in the muscle group you are working that lasts for days at a time more rest may be necesary - maybe even a doctor's visit.

Good question, Chris - thanks!

Be well.
Dr. Russ
** Information on this web site is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice provided by your physician or other healthcare professional. You should not use the information on this web site for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, or prescribing any medication or other treatment. **  

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