Taking an off day can make you stronger

Estimated read time: 2 minutes

I read somewhere – probably on Twitter – that the hardest part about exercising is to get started. Once you’ve started, the hardest part is to stop. For myself – remember everything on this site is my personal experience 🙂 – taking an off day can be a challenge.

Taking an off day - I love to liftI love to go to the gym, go out for a run and get better. I’ve even gone to the gym when I’m tired or borderline sick. There have been times I  probably shouldn’t have gone in the afternoon because I already worked out that morning.

See, it’s hard to stop once you started and have gotten into a groove. Of course another advantage of not taking an off day: When you work out you can eat more. I keep track of my calories in the My Fitness Pal app and it can be a challenge to stay within the calories allowance on an off day. Lifting weights or doing cardio can add anywhere from 300 to 900 calories to the daily calorie count.

But taking an off day from time to time is important:

  • It refreshes us.
  • It is a break we can enjoy. For example: I usually get up at 4 a.m. and then head to the gym. I sometimes even wake up before the iPhone wakes me. But when I take an off day and set my alarm for 6 a.m., the extra two hours of sleep can feel so refreshing.
  • It frees up time for other things that we enjoy. For example, extra sleep, more time with friends and family or time to pick up a book.
  • Our bodies need rest.

The question might be when we should be taking that off day. I usually map out a few weeks of workouts and build in off days one to two times per week. I try to take advantage of natural breaks in my overall schedule. For example:

  • If I have a late-night event to attend on one night, I might make the next day an off day.
  • When traveling, there’s usually a day that’s so packed with meetings and other things that it’s easy to take that day as an off day.

  • When I feel terrible. Every once in a while, I wake up and don’t feel well at all. This doesn’t happen all that often but when it does I make sure to take the unexpected off day. I usually come back stronger the next day.

As you and I continue our journeys to the healthiest-possible lifestyle, keep in mind that off days can also help us with that goal. Off days help our bodies recover. Note to self: Don’t skip them.

One last thing: As hard as it is to stop exercising once you’ve started, it’s also hard to start again once stopped. With that in mind, I try to follow this rule when it comes to off days: Never take two consecutive off days.