WE LEARN BY EXPERIENCE
At least I do. A couple of days ago, I woke up with a myriad of aches and pain, some of which arose from my arthritis and some of which may have been from overtraining.
As a senior workout advocate, I hated to miss my routine – but my back, hips, knees, fingers and shoulders seemed to be begging for rest.
I had been working out every day, but never stressing the same body part on two consecutive days.
If I took a rare rest day, I would feel a twinge of guilt.
The time had come for me to rethink my priorities. This was difficult, since my emphasis personally and within my writing had been to always stress the importance of consistency.
REST AND RECOVERY
First of all, I needed to review a few basic standards of exercise to remind myself of the importance of rest days:
- Muscles grow when we rest, not when we are working out. This is because workouts create small tears in our muscles and our muscles grow only when the tears are repaired on rest days.
- Rest days help to prevent injury. If our tears are not able to heal, this can lead to muscle sprains. Without sufficient rest, our tendons and bones may also be compromised.
- Overtraining syndrome may result from lack of rest. This can cause poor performance, fatigue and lack of sleep. One way to check for overtraining is to measure your resting heart rate. If it is 5-10 beats over normal for a few days, you may be overtraining.
- Rest days keep us motivated. We don’t want our workouts to become tedious and non-productive. Taking a break can restore our normal hunger for training.
- Rest days help us sleep better. During REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep, our muscles relax and our brain stores information. During non-REM sleep, blood flows to our muscles and allows them to grow and repair.
- Our immune system is supported by rest and recovery. While moderate exercise helps us to avoid colds and flu, heavy exercise (without sufficient rest) may subject us to upper respiratory infections.
SENIORS, TAKE NOTE
The process of training is to overload our muscles, let them break down, let them recover and then repeat. The recovery part becomes lengthier after the age of 35-40. How many great athletes are still productive past this age? Tom Brady, LeBron James and who else?
I am 80 and thus at an age when rest time is even more an issue. I am the last person who should be skipping rest days.
It may be only coincidental, but after a rest day yesterday, I slept much better last night. My thought had been to work out every day, but with limited sets and without ever working the same body part on consecutive days.
My thinking is changing – the same body is being stressed every day, if not the same areas. Can we really separate upper body from lower body that easily when working out? And, if the split routines are practical for younger people, are they okay for those over 50? And for those over 80?
My conclusion is that I need to go back to the routine I had several decades ago – simply alternate workout days with rest days.
TOOLS FOR RECOVERY
Food choices can be of great benefit after our workouts. Here are a few recommendations:
- Fruits with high counts of antioxidants, such as blueberries
- Vegetables with high antioxidants – broccoli, spinach and carrots
- Protein – rich foods, such as beef, chicken and fish
- Carbohydrates, for fast production of insulin, such as pasta and potatoes
Other beneficial food include: quinoa, tart cherry juice, pumpkin seeds, ricotta and smoked salmon.
Beneficial activities include the following:
- Foam rolling – to improve flexibility and correct muscle imbalances. Also, foam rolling helps to flush out lactic acid and toxins
- Icing – to break down inflammation and speed recovery
- Massaging – to bring nutrient-rich blood to our muscles and to improve range of motion
- Hydration – to lubricate joints and remove toxins
Amazon can help with specific tools and supplements for recovery. As an Amazon affiliate, I may earn from qualifying purchases. Check the links below for relevant items and scroll around as you see fit:
- Massage gun – deep tissue muscle massager
- Foam roller set
- Ice pack for hips
- Quinoa – 16 oz.
- Tart cherry juice
- Whey protein
Goli Nutrition provides gummies and “bites” that are infused with highly nutritious pre and post workout benefits. Click on the link or use the promo code workoutblogger for lowest prices and free shipping.
FitTrack gives us a full picture of our health by showing us 17 body metrics as we simply step on the Dara scale
Hopefully, my personal experiences have helped to provide guidance to those who may be facing similar issues. Rest time is crucial and without it, we defeat the purpose of doing a workout at all.
Also, age can be a factor, which does not suggest that we are incapable of growth as we age. It does mean that more care may be necessary for optimal results.
Please leave me any comments or questions in the “Comments” section below. Or email me, firstname.lastname@example.org.
All my best!