So you can bet that as soon as my fever broke I was back in the yoga studio and the gym! EVERY. DAY. What did you expect? But I am a big believer in taking rest days, and was pretty excited when #SelfCareSunday rolled around. Rest days are CRITICAL when it comes to practicing Movement as Medicine.
Why are rest days so important? First off, let's get clear on what a rest day isn't. A rest day does not necessarily involve hours on the couch and consuming your body weight in Swedish Fish. It's perfectly reasonable - and encouraged - to incorporate low-intensity movement into your rest days; think taking the dog for a long walk, popping into a yin yoga class, or - yes - taking a day off entirely. The point is to take a rest day from high intensity exercise to allow your muscles and connective tissues an opportunity to repair. Without sufficient time to repair, your body will fatigue more easily, you are more prone to injury, and your athletic performance may plateau or even decrease.
Rest days are also extremely important from a mental and emotional perspective to prevent burnout (which can be super derailing). Over-training can cause both mood and sleep disturbances, neither of which is conducive to continuing training. Cue vicious cycle.
#ProTip: if you're the type who finds it hard to sit still (I'm looking at you, Type A), schedule rest days into your workout routine. Put them on your calendar. Treat them with the same veneration and respect that your spin/yoga/HIIT/boxing classes earn on your schedule.
Self-care can be as simple as a long hot bath (I love mixing in Epsom salts or combining my favorite rosemary-infused coconut oil and an icy-meets-spicy cayenne serum for added relaxation), having a glass of wine with dinner, making plans for screen-free time with your loved ones, or rewatching The Office on Netflix while wearing your favorite face mask (stay tuned for Wednesday's post on my favorite skincare routines!).
But it's also nice to treat yourself sometimes (so go ahead and channel your inner Tom Haverford and Donna Meagle and #TREATYOSELF). This Sunday I headed to Remedy Bodyworks where founder and self-proclaimed life-long disciple of both holistic body work and athletic challenge Michael Gorman put me through a series of treatments to - literally - REMEDY my body.
First up was whole body cryotherapy, a pretty intense 3-minute exposure to extreme cold (-130 to -190F)! With protective booties and gloves, I stepped inside and it was... well... COLD! Michael explained that the extreme cold shunts blood flow from the limbs towards the internal organs, thereby increasing flow through the liver to more rapidly cleanse the blood of inflammatory modulators, toxins, and metabolic waste. The rapid rewarming when you step out of the chamber stimulates cellular regeneration and you can definitely expect a surge of endorphins when you hit warm air again!
Next I was off to photobiomodulation therapy (BPM) which I'll call Red Light Therapy to save myself the tongue-twister! I'll defer the details of the physiology of this one to the Remedy website, but the stimulation of the mitochondria within the cells increases their capacity to repair and regenerate, which gives BPM/Red Light Therapy the potential to offer drug-free pain relief, reduction of muscle fatigue, improvement of skin texture, and improved joint mobility. Plus it feels pretty amazing after freezing, bringing the heat back in from skin to muscle to bone!
Took a quick breather in the infrared sauna, a more spacious version of my NYC go-to HigherDose (it's an addiction... #GETDOSEDNATURALLY). Were it not my rest day, it's the perfect spot to fit in an extra juicy, warm and flexible practice (wink, wink - I'll be back).
Pretty successful #SelfCareSunday, but also the perfect remedy for any rest day. So take the time to REST (put it on your schedule!), whether it's DIY at home or trying a new holistic or high-tech therapy. The time off is good for your body, good for your mind, and is - quite literally - the practice of Movement as Medicine.
How do you recuperate on your rest days? Comment below and let me know!