Today’s post is all about knowing when to take a break from exercise and how having a workout-less day during the week could provide you even more benefit than never deviating from your planned sweat sessions.
I was recently quoted in an article about a nutrition “rule” that I break because, hey, us dietitians are real humans too! The rule that I take the liberty of breaking is giving myself permission to take a day off from exercise and I thought it would be beneficial to share more about my reasons behind this mischievous behavior.
In my article quote, I mentioned some interesting research from last year about how when exercising stressed or angry, the symptoms of a heart attack increase. While I’m not personally worried about having a heart attack when forcing myself to exercise after a long day at work, this is a true concern that should be kept in mind for people who have the tendency to push themselves a bit too hard.
Physical risk aside, for me, there are many other mental and emotional benefits to listening to your body and skipping a workout. When you’re in the diet mentality, you may find that you beat yourself up for a food slip-up, as well as an evening spent on the couch instead of on the treadmill. As we know with food restriction, exercise obsession is more often counter intuitive for one’s health and overall well being. Forcing yourself to go for a workout when you’re feeling stressed or tired, or purely for the sake of burning calories from lunch, contributes to the cycle of diet mentality and body negativity.Moving your body during a run or flowing through yoga poses should be about joyful movement, celebrating the strength of your muscles, or finding some time for self-care, rather than as a form of punishment for “bad” food choices or for fear of losing control. When not in training mode for a race, I have indeed learned that a day (or two, or three) not engaging in exercise benefits my body and mind immensely.
I encourage each of you to find your reasons for engaging in exercise, practice listening to your body, and when ready, move intuitively and mindfully. If you’re interested in reading the other rules my fellow rebellious RDs break, don’t forget to check out the Daily Meal read!