Add Rest Days to Your Workout Routine

June 2, 2020

Henry Ford Health System

Whether you're new to exercise or a seasoned enthusiast, it's tempting to adopt an all-go, no-quit attitude. This is especially common when you're are trying to achieve a fitness goal. Maybe you want to run a 5K, or maybe you have 10 pounds you want to shed before going on vacation.

"Whatever the driver, it's important to remember that scheduling time for rest and rejuvenation is a critical component of any workout regimen," says James Moeller, M.D., a sports medicine specialist at Henry Ford Health System.

Building in Rest Days

From high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and spin to barre and Zumba, popular workouts increasingly push exercisers to go faster, longer, stronger. This prolonged physical stress can lead to overuse injuries, such as stress fractures, muscle strains and joint pain. Excessive exercise can also lead to hormonal changes, disrupted sleep patterns, decreased immunity and mood swings.

“Working out, especially resistance training, breaks tissues down, causing microscopic damage,” Dr. Moeller says. "Rest days allow your muscles time to rebuild."

So how much rest do you really need? There isn't a one-size-fits-all prescription. Factors like your age, fitness level, the intensity of your workout and the amount of training you do weekly will impact the amount of recovery time you need. But there are some basic guidelines for rest days:

1. Go easy: Rest is a relative term. "It's not just sitting on the couch with an iced tea," says Dr. Moeller. "You may still be exercising on 'rest' days, but at a lower intensity." Maybe you go for a brisk walk or ride your bike to work. Take a yoga class or do some dynamic stretching. The key is to make sure you're not overworking the same body parts.

2. Get sufficient sleep: Sleep is a key component of muscle repair and rebuilding. During sleep, your body’s production of growth hormone increases. Not getting quality shuteye thwarts your body's production of growth hormone and can impact your performance.

3. Give overtaxed muscles a break: You don't need to skip the gym on specific days each week, but you do need to rotate which body parts you're working. The general rule is to give muscles 48 hours to recover after a workout. So it's a good idea to take two to three days off before working the same muscle groups again.

4. Stay hydrated: Make sure to restore lost fluids before, during and after a workout. Dehydration can lead to overheating, headaches and muscle fatigue, among other ailments. You don’t need a sports drink; water is best. "Sports drinks aren't required unless you're getting into very high intensity activity, or exercising for more than one hour at a time," Dr. Moeller says.

5. Pay attention to your body: A lot of people try to work out through pain and fatigue. If there's a heaviness to your movements, or if you feel like your muscles are not responding appropriately to the stress you're providing, take a time out. "It's really about learning to read your body's signals," says Dr. Moeller.

Health authorities and news headlines widely publicize the health benefits of exercise — and the consequences of inactivity. The American Heart Association recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, plus strength training two or three days per week. Less discussed are the negative effects of not allowing your body sufficient time to rest.

Getting sufficient rest between workouts is just as important as participating in regular exercise. "Both are part of the total process required to build strength, endurance and muscle mass," Dr. Moeller says.

Want to learn more? Henry Ford Health System sports medicine experts are treating the whole athlete, in a whole new way. From nutrition to neurology, and from injury prevention to treatment of sports-related conditions, they can give your athlete a unique game plan.

Visit or call (313) 972-4216 for an appointment within 24 business hours.

This Week in High School Sports: 2/7/24

By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties

February 7, 2024

This week's edition highlights the MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards program, presents Game Balls to standouts in wrestling, basketball and skiing, and celebrates our latest Charles E. Forsythe Lifetime Achievement Award honoree.

MI Student AidThe 5-minute program each week includes feature stories from or network affiliates, along with "Be the Referee," a 60-second look at the fine art of officiating.

"This Week in High School Sports" is powered by MI Student Aid, a division within the Department of Lifelong Education, Advancement, and Potential (MiLEAP).

Listen to this week's show by Clicking Here.

Previous Editions

Jan. 31: Girls sports participation, MHSAA Wrestling Tournament schedule - Listen
Jan. 24:
MHSAA Women in Sports Leadership Conference, Hillman basketball's Trenton Taratuta - Listen
Jan. 10:
Doug Towler's ice hockey coaching record, 2023-24 officials registration news - Listen
Jan. 3: 
MHSAA Girls & Boys Basketball Tournament schedules, Finals dates for all winter sports - Listen
Nov. 22: 
MHSAA Girls Volleyball, 8-Player Football and Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals reviews - Listen
Nov. 15: Football record breakers, 2022-23 MHSAA postseason attendance - Listen
Nov. 8:
MHSAA Boys Soccer, Lower Peninsula Cross Country Finals reviews - Listen
Nov. 1:
MHSAA Girls Volleyball Tournament schedule, Football Playoffs first-round review - Listen
Oct. 26:
Lower Peninsula Girls Golf Finals, Boys Tennis Finals review - Listen
Oct. 18:
MHSAA Football Playoff selection, Bear Lake football coach Sam Mullet - Listen
Oct. 11:
Upper Peninsula soccer, MHSAA sports participation excels nationally - Listen
Oct. 4:
Jackson Lumen Christi's Herb Brogan, MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits - Listen
Sept. 24:
All-woman football officiating crew, Powers North Central's record winning streak ends - Listen
Sept. 21:
35th MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Grass Lake QB Brayden Lape - Listen
Sept. 14:
Athletic director education, MHSAA video library - Listen
Sept. 7:
Adjustments to 11-player football, boys soccer Finals schedules - Listen
Aug. 31:
New out-of-state opponents rules, football record book updates - Listen
Aug. 24: coverage ramps up, "Made in Michigan" tells us where they are now - Listen