There are so many articles on this site and others about the importance of exercise. Getting active and embracing an exercise routine reduces the risk of a number of health problems and keeps you strong, limber, and energized as you age.
Diet is also extremely important and it goes hand-in-hand with a regular exercise regime. Eating right gives you the energy to get through your workouts and recover, while promoting healthfulness, eliminating countless disease risks, and providing the foundation to a long and healthful life.
Now it’s very hard to find a problem with the combination of eating right and exercising, but sometimes, people can take it a little too far. They push themselves too hard at the gym or take their diet too seriously and ultimately end up missing out on life. Not even professional athletes, bodybuilders, or fitness professionals follow the rules 100% of the time. In my opinion—and this is one that is generally shared throughout the fitness and health community—breaks are required. Taking a break allows your body to rest, recover, and get primed to come back even better for your next workout session.
Depending on your level of training, goals, and diet, there are different ways to schedule breaks. Assuming you exercise for recreation and work out four to five times a week, while eating healthy 80% of the time, you should schedule a rest every eight to 12 weeks. However, it’s usually best to just listen to your body. If you’re beginning to feel fatigued and see that your progress has stopped or has started to move backwards, it’s time for a break.
The duration of your break period is also on an individual basis. However, if you fall into the category mentioned above, one or two weeks should suffice. To be sure that you don’t overdo it, I’d suggest you specify an end date to your rest period at the beginning. If you find it hasn’t been long enough, then lengthen it the next time around.
During this time, stay out of the gym or away from any environment or equipment associated with the exercise you’ve been doing—running, swimming, cycling, working out in the gym. Instead, just carry on life as normal, minus the physical activities. Don’t completely abandon your healthy eating habits, but feel free to relax them a bit. Indulge yourself a couple of times and enjoy the food and experiences you might have missed. Because you know you’re on a brief rest, you can do this completely guilt-free. Just make sure you don’t go overboard!
When you reset, you’ll feel far better. Your body has time to recover; you’ll experience energy restoration and be able to come back, likely stronger than before. Although we hear a lot about how bad being idle and sedentary can be, it’s actually quite healthy to rest and relax in moderation. So take a trip and sit on a beach, lounge on the sofa, or just spend some time in your backyard hammock. You’ve been good for a whole two to three months; you have a pass to do absolutely nothing…just make sure you get back to your regular physical activity schedule when your pre-specified date comes around!