How To Listen To Your Body And Rest When You Need It

Regular exercise is vital for living a healthy lifestyle. Yet, like anything, too much of a good thing can be detrimental to your health as well. In fact, proper rest is arguably just as important in leading a healthy life as well. Overtraining occurs when the amount of activity completed exceeds the body’s ability to recover from exercise adequately.

While it’s most common among avid athletes, overtraining can occur with any age, activity (from walking on a treadmill to training for an ultra marathon), or fitness level. Finding the balance between pushing yourself, staying fit, and getting the right amount of rest is key to feeling your best.

Today, we will explore how to listen to your body to take appropriate rest breaks when you need it and prevent the onset of unnecessary symptoms.

Signs of Overtraining

Before diving into some tips on listening to your body and giving it what it needs, let’s discuss some of the common symptoms that occur with overexercise. Some of these may be your first clue that something isn’t right and you need to adjust your fitness routine, while others may be your body screaming at you to pay closer attention.

  • A gradual or rapid decline in performance levels
  • Noticing that it is taking longer for the body to recuperate between bouts of exercise
  • Unusual fatigue during or after a workout or event
  • Changes in your mental health, including mood swings, increased irritability, or even depression
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Excessive muscle soreness, joint pain, or a feeling that the limbs are heavy
  • The onset of injuries related to overuse

What Does Your Body Need?

The saying “listen to your body” is quite common. However, it can feel impossible to decipher what this means regarding your exercise routine and general health. This is because what you should be feeling and doing is ultimately something that needs to be determined individually.

We all have different fitness goals, pain tolerances, and genetics that influence what we can tolerate and how far we can push ourselves. While pushing yourself is great, it is also essential to know your limits too.

So how do you start to figure this out? Start with these basic tips:

  • Be mindful. Many of us are excellent at tuning out what our bodies are telling us. It’s easy to get wrapped up in daily activities without stopping to give any thought to how we’re feeling both mentally and physically. While it may seem simple enough, ceasing to be quiet and still and tune into our bodies can take a lot of practice. You can take time daily before, during, and after your workouts to meditate, breath deeply, stretch, and let your body give you a heads up on what it truly needs.
  • Help your body thrive. You can’t expect to push yourself hard without making other healthful choices in your life that help your body properly recover. This means that you should prioritize a nutrient-dense diet, get enough sleep, and take adequate time for rest when your body asks for it.
  • Cross-train and take rest days. You can train hard and get great results as long as you also take adequate rest. This can mean taking completely restful days where you aren’t doing any activity or only participating in gentle movements like stretching or self-massage. Additionally, you may find you don’t need an entire rest day but just a day to rest the muscles you usually work with some cross-training. For example, if you’re spending most of your time running outside or on a treadmill, you might take a day to lift weights or swim on an “off” day.
  • Throw Away Expectations. Playing the comparison game with others, or even with a younger version of yourself, will only get you in trouble. Try not to place expectations on yourself for what you “should” be doing. If you are too tired, feeling sore, or experiencing any other symptoms- it’s best to listen.

Learning to Tune Into Your Body

It’s time to listen closely to your body because it is most likely telling you precisely what it needs. Sometimes what it needs is rest. If you feel guilty about skipping a workout, it’s usually because you know you’re capable of pushing through it.

On the other hand, if you feel relief or just know that on some level that it’s not the best idea, then you’re probably doing an excellent job of taking your body’s needs into account. Only you know what’s best for you, so use that intuition and be kind to your body when it needs it.

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