“Taking a break” has gotten such a bad rep over the years. Remember the hit TV show Friends, when the iconic love duo, Ross and Rachel, were on a break? Bad things happened. Or maybe you were in middle school P.E. and all the athletic and fit students were able to run faster and you felt ashamed when you had to take a break to catch your breath. There have been so many circumstances where the notion of “taking a break” has been negative. Really, really negative. But that doesn’t have to be the case!
What if taking a break was a good thing?
I’ve recently taken a short hiatus from my typical workout and fitness schedule (I say hiatus here because it was longer than a break due to repeated injuries). And I can tell you from personal experience, as well as hours and hours of research, that taking a break from fitness has benefits.
The 5 Biggest Benefits Of Taking A Break From Working Out Are:
1. Mindset Change.
Taking a break from the routine can give you perspective and new ideas! Take the time to come up with some new exercises to try or classes to take. And maybe take the opportunity to do some active recovery — like walking, yoga, etc.
2. Break through the plateau.
Sometimes we can get so obsessed with our workouts, our records, our weight, our caloric intake, our macros, etc. that it becomes unhealthy and leads to burnout. Doing the same thing day after day can get boring and stale. Throwing a break into the schedule may be the change in routine that you’ve been needing!
3. Prevent (or recover from) injuries.
This may be the most sensible benefit. Exercise takes a toll on the body. Even the most careful of exercisers can get injuries! Sore or strained muscles, bruises, sprains, fractures, breaks, tears, etc. all require rest. Or maybe if you’re stuck in a routine, you may not be as careful as you usually are. Or maybe you’ve been pushing yourself, and you may be close to an injury. Relax, rest, repeat.
4. Get stronger and healthier.
Muscles need time to recuperate and repair in order to get stronger. Let your body catch up! Maybe you can catch up on some sleep too…
5. Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
Have you ever heard that saying before? Well, it can be true! And if the absence of something doesn’t make you miss it, then that’s a sign that you may need a change. For instance, if you’ve been running exclusively… and you don’t miss it while you take a break, then maybe it’s time to try out a new form of exercise (i.e. cycling, swimming, weight lifting, yoga, etc.).
3 Things to consider when taking a break
Just as breaks can have benefits, they can also create setbacks. It is tricky to manage the fine line between “taking a break” and “falling out of a habit.” Working out is a difficult habit to build and to remain consistent with… therefore, it is SO important to be careful when taking a break!
The 3 biggest setbacks from taking a break from fitness that I have seen are:
Short breaks turn into long breaks.
Remember the commercial for an arthritis medication that said “a body a rest stays at rest…and a body in motion stays in motion” or something along those lines? Well, it’s true. If we aren’t careful, our short break can turn into something more.
It’s used as an excuse to not do anything at all or to eat whatever you want.
Just because you’re taking a break, doesn’t mean that active recovery shouldn’t be considered. I’ll be honest, I’ve done my fair share of “lounging around and not doing anything because it’s my rest time.” Not to mention… the “eat whatever I want because it’s my cheat day” mentality. HARMFUL! Please, by all means, reward yourself for your hard work… and eat what your heart desires. But everything in moderation, right?
You expect everything to change as a result of the break.
Yes, rest can improve many things. But it isn’t the “one size fits all” for many things in the fitness world. If you have an injury, rest may be part of the answer – but other steps are taken too! Rest won’t make you lift 50 pounds heavier at your next workout. And it won’t shave 2 minutes off of your mile time. But rest IS part of the answer. Just not the whole answer.