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When your body needs a rest day, it speaks up. Often with our busy lives we shrug this off and battle on, but not allowing your body to rest can cause more damage than you might think. 
 
Taking a rest day gives your body the time it needs to repair and heal and a gives your muscles a chance to grow back stronger. Not allowing your body to rest interrupts your body’s natural functions and your body begins to suffer. 
 

How do you know if your body is shouting at you for a break? 

The extreme soreness that you experience when your body needs a rest is one of the biggest signs that you need to take a break. Light aching and general fatigue following a tough workout is natural but should only be very temporary and shouldn’t stop you from continuing with your usual activity. 
 
This extreme soreness is a result of inflammation and tissue damage - both of which your body needs time to clear and repair. Without rest, you’ll drastically increase your risk of injury and could end up on a much longer break than anticipated. 
 

1) Feeling down 

Exercise is an effective mood-booster. Many of us exercise to feel good. It’s often difficult to get the balance right though, especially if you’re new to exercising. 
 
Skip too many rest days, and you’ll likely start to feel down. Exercising too much will make you feel down too. This is because working out every day can increase your body’s levels of stress hormones including cortisol and epinephrine. These changes can lead to a hormonal imbalances and cause mood swings and irritability. 

2) Not Sleeping Well 

A surplus of stress hormones doesn’t just make you feel down. It can also affect your sleeping habits. Sleep deprivation impairs your workout recovery, further upping your body’s level of inflammation and leading to even worse sleep and performance. 

3) You’re Starting to Dread Your Workouts 

Let’s be real here, nobody feels psyched for every single workout, and that’s OK. However, if you’ve noticed that your motivation and enjoyment around exercise has dramatically dropped, it might be a sign you need a break. 
 
If your head isn’t quite in the right place, but you still want some movement, try taking a short walk, or practise some stretches. Do what you feel your body is asking you to do. 

4) Your Workouts Suddenly Feel Harder Than Usual 

If your short runs suddenly begin to feel like marathons, then it’s time you took a break. Your rate of perceived exertion (RPE), or how hard an activity feels on a scale of 1 to 19, always goes up when you’re lacking recovery. Your muscle strength and running pace also tends to plummet. A rest day can help you recharge, gain energy, and perform your next workout to the best of your ability. 
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