When it comes to building a consistent exercise routine, think of it as a marathon rather than a sprint. The problem with many new exercise buffs is that they go super hard right off the bat and end up exhausting their muscles — or worse, getting injured.

Our previous post on The Importance of Taking a Rest Day points out that taking a break aids muscle recovery, helps improve your overall performance, and even boosts your sleep routine. In the same way that we should pace ourselves when we exercise, we should also learn to take breaks in between workouts. Here are our top tips on the do's and don'ts for your next rest day.

The Do's:

Try active recovery

Passive recovery (i.e. rest days where you really just, well, rest) help give your muscles a breather, but you can also try incorporating active recovery days into your routine. CPT Andia Winslow notes that active recovery days are a great way to send blood to your repairing muscles without putting your body through undue stress. Doing yoga or stretching out with a foam roller is a great example of exercises you can do as active recovery, and you can insert these sessions in between strenuous training days.

Remember to take care of your skin

Skincare often gets neglected when we're hopping from one fitness session to another. Our skin goes through a lot when we're working out, so a rest day is crucial to take care of your body’s biggest organ. Vitamin E Creams are a great way to keep skin hydrated without feeling sticky. Moisturising is especially important for those of us with sensitive skin, as excessive sweating can lead to skin irritation.

Immerse yourself in other hobbies

If you're scared you might get bored on your rest day, use this time as an opportunity to revisit some of your other hobbies — or maybe even pick up new ones! Immersing yourself in a lot of other activities helps keep your mind sharp, which will in turn strengthen your focus when you get back to work. Of course, it's also just good to cultivate other interests outside of just working out.

Active recovery rest day
Image via Unsplash

The Don'ts (or the "do less if poss"!)

Forget about your nutrition

Life is all about balance, and we love pizza as much as the next person! However getting the nutrients you need to recover is still important on a rest day! If you're someone who relies a lot on simple sugars like workout bars or cereals as a way to fuel up before a workout, why not try using your rest day to change it up and eat some complex carbs instead?

Stress yourself out

The Huffington Post underscores the importance of giving your brain a break as a way to reduce overall stress levels in the body. It's great to take days off from working out, but if you find yourself getting mentally stressed and burned out on your days off then you're just going to be frazzled the next time you do exercise. Use your days off to check in with yourself and find out how to decrease stress in your day to day life. Physical health is massively important, but so is mental health, people!

Skimp on sleep

Last but not least, make sure you're getting enough sleep on your days off. Your body needs enough rest to repair itself and get you ready to smash that next workout! Sleeping for at least eight hours is a good rule of thumb, so make sure you're planning your day accordingly to account for some good old shut-eye!

Rest days are a crucial part of any fitness regimen, and these tips and tricks will help you maximise your days off to ensure you're fully rested and recharged!

Written exclusively for Herfreesoul.com by Allie Cooper