How was your Labor Day weekend? If we look at the concept of taking a day off to celebrate the labor we typically do each day, perhaps we should examine how we should give our muscles a day off, too. Americans are inclined to overdo most everything and working out is no exception.
Statistics indicate that for non-runners (as in, those who prefer a different mode of exercise than running), 3-7% experience exercise addiction, identified by the need to vigorously exercise every day. For runners, that number skyrockets up to 50%. In our quest to overachieve, many of us are failing at a crucial piece of self-care: REST. If you need a reminder about how important it is for you to give your body a little downtime, here are few things you need to know about the dangers of too much stress and the importance of relaxation.
- Overworking and Stress Leads to Disease
The stress we experience from overworking ourselves can cause significant health problems. In fact, stress has been linked to Alzheimer ’s disease, heart disease, lung ailments, suicide, and fatal accidents. In fact, 90% of doctor visits are for stress-related conditions.
- Excessive Exercise Can Be Harmful
A British study printed in a 2015 issue of Circulation found that women who exercised every day had a greater risk than their sedentary counterparts for heart attack, stroke, or blood clots. Those exercising 2-5 times per week had the lowest risk. And a decades-long study discussed in Mayo Clinic Proceedings showed that for heart health, running more than 30 miles per week showed to be detrimental in comparison to running a few times per week totaling a lower mileage.
- Relaxation Can Fight Depression and Stress
Failing to relax can make us more susceptible to depression. Chronic stress can kill brain cells in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for healthy reactions to stress. Also, the prolonged surging of the stress hormone cortisol can decrease levels of your feel-good hormones serotonin and dopamine.
- Muscles Need Rest Too
Your muscles don’t like constant stress, either. The micro-tears that develop when muscles are stressed, as in during a workout, need a day or two to repair and grow stronger. Working and reworking muscles while they’re still in their repair phase sets you up for injury and slowed endurance or strength gains.
Labor Day is a great reminder to be sure you’re treating your mind and body well with a proper amount of downtime and rest. It’s a win-win for you. Not only do you get to enjoy a little relaxation, but once you return to work or your HIIT workouts, you’ll be even stronger, sharper, and able to hit it even harder.