This one goes out to the cardio, sweat, can’t rest, high intensity bunnies…I see you, because I've been you!
The addiction to the endorphins and sweat that cardio and high intensity exercise brings is a real thing and is an easy trap to fall into. After all, we’re told exercise is good for us - and it is! But like anything, it’s all in the dosage…..
Add comparison and things like social media into the mix, and the idea that more = better can be a difficult one to bypass.
There is most certainly a place for all types of exercise and movement we enjoy. There's nothing wrong with a good sweat out - I love a great mood boosting HIIT session or run as much as the next person! When done appropriately, with adequate fuelling and recovery, they are a great addition to any exercise or training routine.
Where it can become a problem is when exercise comes at the detriment to our physical and mental health. Sometimes the negative impacts of intense exercise cannot be seen and only become apparent after years of damage have been done.
We have to remember that exercise is a form of stress on the body. We are intentionally pushing our bodies out of their comfort zones with the goal of them adapting and coming back fitter, stronger, faster. High intensity exercise (whether that’s in the form of interval or strength training) and endurance sports are particularly taxing. Doing more can actually have the opposite effect than you’re wanting or intending to achieve.
Without adequate rest and recovery, our bodies don’t get the chance to rebuild and repair. This can have negative effects on both our physical and mental state such as:
Increased risk of injury
Plateaus in fitness/strength
Decreased sleep quality
Lack of desire to train or even for other areas in your life
Hormonal changes (women can lose their periods or have trouble conceiving)
Unhealthy obsessions with training/exercise
Rather than running ourselves ragged trying to push through long, gruelling sessions multiple times a week, a shift in mindset towards intensity over frequency is a good idea.
Ensuring your body is recovered and ready will enable it to push harder through an intense session, seeing you gain much more from every workout. When your body is tired (and it will be if you’re pushing it hard on the daily), there is no way it will be able to work to its full potential - therefore your performance is hindered, making it almost impossible for you to see progress.
Supplementing your intense or endurance sessions with more gentle forms of movement, as well as the odd rest day are key to seeing real results and progress. Swimming, walking, de-load weights sessions, cycling, yoga and pilates are all great options that lack the intensity, but still allow you to move your body and feel great.
Think about your rest/recovery days as recharging a battery. This is where the magic of repairing and rebuilding happen - where all the hard work you’ve been putting in comes to fruition! Your well rested bod will then be able to come in strong to the next session, enabling you to to hit it with your maximum intensity and get the most from it.
Incorporating rest days can help combat plateaus, boredom, risk of injury and keep you at the happiest, healthiest version of yourself. Remember, just because you can’t see the negative effects, doesn’t mean they aren’t happening - spoken from experience.
Always listen to YOUR body and aim to give it the respect it deserves, it will pay you back in keeping you feeling amazing and performing at it's best!
Feel free to get in contact if you have any questions or comments - I love hearing from you!
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