Is it Necessary to Take a Day Off?

Many sports specialists note that rest is just another part of training. In fact, this couldn't be more true. In this article, we tell you all about why it's necessary to take a day off every now and then.
Is it Necessary to Take a Day Off?

Last update: 26 April, 2021

Many athletes refuse to take a day off thinking that it’ll negatively affect their sporting performance. This idea isn’t only wrong, but it’s also dangerous. Rest is a fundamental part of any training routine.

Getting enough rest is important both for your physical health and your psychological wellbeing. In fact, many injuries to the musculoskeletal system appear because a person doesn’t take a day off and pushes their body to the limit of its abilities.

Why is it good to take a day off?

The time you spend resting should be directly proportional to the intensity and frequency of the exercise you do. But, it’s also important to remember the physical capacity that each person has to deal with the stress of the exercise. Below, we go into a little more depth about why it’s important to take a day off.

Relax your muscles and your mind

Training without rest is a potential source of muscular and nerve stress. Being in a prolonged state of stress can lead to injury, as well as increasing your chances of becoming burnt out.

The main consequence of being burnt out is a significant reduction in your performance ability. But, it doesn’t just end there; it’s common for an athlete to experience negative feelings when in this state. Ultimately, these feelings can be so intense that the athlete ends up abandoning practicing the sport altogether.

It’s always best to look for prevention over cure. As such, it’s a good idea to schedule periods of adequate rest and ensure that you keep your stress levels as low as possible.

man chilling in the garden with a cup of coffee smiling and resting

Integration and organization

Enough rest is essential for your memory to work properly. It’s not just a passive warehouse where you can store thoughts and abilities, it’s an active element that’s capable of shaping what we learn.

Taking a day off, therefore, is important for the integration and organization of new knowledge. It also helps to get rid of anything that isn’t relevant. That may explain why we perform better over time and not so well immediately after having learned a new skill.

Specifically, it’s worth mentioning the role that sleep plays in the consolidation of memory. According to an article published in the Mexican Journal of the Faculty of Medicine (Revista de la Facultad de Medicina (México)), both the verbal memory and more procedure-based memory that are related to movement sequences benefit from the positive effects of sleep.

Increase your capacity to be productive

Productivity is a relationship between the results you gain from completing a task and the resources involved in it. By that, we mean that high productivity levels are directly linked to achieving good results with less time and effort.

Many people believe, albeit wrongly, that being productive means working a lot. But that isn’t the case. When it comes to talking about productivity or efficiency, you should remember the methods and resources involved, not just the results.

woman snoozing in bed waking up refreshed

With that in mind, when you take a day off, you actually increase your productivity. This is because you’re able to disconnect your mind from training, which allows you to face the routine later with a fresh, renewed, and more positive attitude.

Get better results – take a day off!

The relationship between work and performance isn’t linear. Although it’s true there’s a link between constant work and achieving good results, but there comes a moment where the body needs to rest to continue moving forward. Ignoring the signs of fatigue is dangerous as it can compromise your health.

The time an athlete spends resting needs to vary in relation to multiple factors. For example, the intensity of the routine, the muscle groups they train, or the competition schedule; these are all variables that influence how much time someone should rest.

However, you shouldn’t forget that each athlete will have their own progression rhythm and that it’s not a good idea to go beyond your abilities. Bear these tips in mind and enjoy your time when you take a day off; it’ll help you to grow as an athlete!

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  • Carrillo-Mora, P., Ramírez-Peris, J., y Magaña-Vázquez, K. (2013). Neurobiología del sueño y su importancia: antología para el estudiante universitario. Revista de la Facultad de Medicina UNAM, 56(4), 5-15.