Rest Days: What Exactly Do You Do?

by Angela (Oh She Glows) on September 8, 2009

Good morning!

ChiaSeedsDirectIt isn’t always easy returning to school or work after the last long weekend of summer. So to cheer you all up, I am having a fun chia seed giveaway this morning!

Read on to find out how to enter. :)


Rest Days: What Exactly Do You Do?


Over the years, my thoughts on rest and recovery days have been all over the map.

In my late teens and early twenties, I rarely considered the option of even giving myself a so called rest day. I did too much and I felt burned out. No surprises there.

After my injury this year, something sort of clicked inside me and I started to appreciate taking rest days. I realized that if I was going to give my best performance, I needed to let my body heal itself.

Over the past several months as I have been training for my summer races, I realized even more how important a rest day can be and how much it improves both my physical and mental energy. As my mileage has increased, I appreciate and look forward to my rest days more and more.

What do I do on my rest day?

I typically take the term ‘rest day’ to heart. I don’t exercise or really even move much during my rest days. I see it as a well deserved lazy day when I don’t feel a workout nagging in the back of my mind. However, I will admit, some of my rest days I am left feeling fidgety. Some days I want to exercise a bit, but I feel like I would be harming my body and not giving it proper rest. I am also questioning if I should be doing anything else on my rest days. More stretching, sleeping, icing, eating, etc. Truly, rest days couldn’t be as simple as resting, could they?

Given this dilemma, I was quite happy to see my Runner’s World arrive in the mail. One of the featured cover stories, ‘Rest Right: Make the most of your days off’ caught my attention. Like always, the fabulous people at Runner’s World read my mind.


Here is the kicker:

Exercise physiologist, Dr. Stephen McGregor says to make the most out of your recovery days doing absolutely nothing all day is not ideal.

I’m telling you guys, I almost threw this magazine in the garbage! I said to myself, ‘No one can take away my lazy rest days! Noooooooooo!’

Wait, I’m supposed to move on my rest days? AreyoujokingIhopeyouarejokingme.

Dr. McGregor says that having an active recovery (have you ever heard of a bigger oxymoron!?) can sooth aches and prepare you for stronger workouts better than an inactive recovery day.

Still not liking where this is going. But, I read on. ;)

The article went on to give some tips for increasing the benefit of recovery days.

1) Move It

Do very light activity like walking your dog or riding a bike for about 30 minutes. “Keep the intensity low…you shouldn’t be out of breath.”

2) Loosen Up

We don’t always have time to stretch properly after tough workouts, especially if they are long in duration. Use your rest days to focus on stretching out your tight spots. Research in the British Journal of Sports Medicine finds that yoga boosts running performance.

3) Eat Smart

Focus on eating the nutrients that you don’t get enough of during the week. If you normally spend 45 minutes on exercise, take some of this time to plan out proper nutrition.

3) Tune In Early

Our bodies and brains need sleep to heal from the mental and physical stress of training. Try to get 7-9 hours of undisturbed sleep.

My thoughts:

Ok, so some light activity might not hurt me, in fact it could actually improve my recovery. I think I am going to be more open to the idea of doing some light walking on my rest days if I want to.

However, coming from my obsessive past with exercise, I know that information like this can be used in a negative way by some. I think it is important to stress that even though some light activity may improve recovery, it is still 100% FINE and DANDY to just sit on the couch during our rest days. We earned the rest and we can spend it however we please.

So of course, take this article with a grain of salt. The take home message here is if you want to do some light exercise and find yourself fidgety when sitting still all day then by all means do some. But, don’t allow yourself to fall into the ‘I should be doing more and more’ trap. If you really want to veg out on your rest day, then veg the heck out!

How do you approach rest days? Are you an all out rester or do you prefer to get in some activity? Have you found that activity helps your recovery?

Leave one comment below by midnight EST for your chance to win a 3 pound bag of chia seeds, graciously donated by Chia Seeds Direct. Contest open to US and Canadian residents only please.


I hear that Chia Seeds Direct also has free shipping within the US.

Chia seeds…the wonder seed!

Goodluck and Happy Short Work Week!


See you later for a breakdown of what to do immediately after an intense workout from minutes 0-45. Have I been doing it all wrong? Stay tuned to find out!

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{ 28 comments… read them below or add one }

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Heather September 8, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I NEED a good rest day – normally it’s Monday (too hectic!) and/or Saturday. Even if I’m not working out as hard on those days, I still get in some light activity – walking or yoga. But mostly I just listen to my body – if it’s telling me to take it easy, then I do it. If it’s telling me to get in a sweatfest, again, I do it. Your body knows best!



Christine September 8, 2009 at 9:30 pm

I feel guilty when I do absolutely no exercise, so I usually settle for a long but leisurely walk with my dog. Every once in a while I take a true “couch day” and I do notice a difference afterwards.


Dana ( September 8, 2009 at 9:49 pm

My work days are my rest days. I work 12 hours. I usually get in a 1.5 mile walk while at work on my breaks. I typically use these days as a rest because I don’t feel like doing anything else after 12 hours! I love chia seeds!


Laura September 8, 2009 at 9:55 pm

I like to take “active” rest days, so I try to sneak in a few walks, some stretching, maybe some yoga and a few ab exercises.


nicole September 8, 2009 at 9:59 pm

For rest days I try to do something active with the kids because i know if i stop moving i get too stiff!


Steph September 8, 2009 at 10:19 pm

I don’t have much to comment on right now as I am not yet a runner, but hopefully I will have some more input after I begin my training!! I would love to try some chia seeds.


Katie September 8, 2009 at 10:30 pm

I clean! Gets me to get things done around the house and fit some activity in so I am not a total couch potato…


Liz23 September 8, 2009 at 10:39 pm

I would love to try some ch, ch, ch, chia!


Crystal September 8, 2009 at 10:56 pm

On my rest days I like to go for nice long walks either around the neighborhood or at the bike path with my husband and two cocker spaniels. On regular workout days I only have time to walk the dogs for about 20 minutes so my rest days are really fun for the whole family.


Allie (Live Laugh Eat) September 8, 2009 at 10:56 pm

I usually take my rest days on the days (1-2 days per week) that I am swamped with classes and work. On those days, I am walking about 1 hour to and from my apartment anyways so it is still rather active. And some days, I feel like doing absolutely nothing and I honor my body’s wants and needs because I know my workout will just be crappy if I don’t.


Kristina September 8, 2009 at 11:04 pm

Ch-Ch-Ch Chia!!

…I am already using chia seeds in my GMs, in baking, make into gel (LOVE THIS!!), etc… but I’d love to win some!!

…Rest days. I sometimes have days like you talked about, where I do… not… move! :) Usually though I still need to get SOME kind of activity, even if it’s a mile of walking the doggie! :)

:) Thank you again, Angela, for my daily reading and inspiration! :)



Kelly September 8, 2009 at 11:16 pm

I struggle so much with rest days, but thanks for the reminder that it is important! I know that is what has led to some of my injuries in the past.

P.S..Love your blog, can’t wait until you are able to ship glo-bars to the U.S.!

P.P.S.. thanks for posting that google docs calendar/spreadsheet. Such a brillant way for me to track my running!


Pauline September 8, 2009 at 11:32 pm

I am an all-rester!!! When I used to work out 5 days a week straight, I grew really irritated, tired and had sore joints. I started to really resent exercising! Now that I space out my rest days better, I feel energized, not sore and totally motivated for my workout! On my rest days, I sleep in and read and just RELAX!


MarathonVal September 8, 2009 at 11:35 pm

I typically try to lay low on rest days, but sometimes that includes a yoga class – to me the stretching aspect of this is beneficial, but I’m not breaking a sweat or at risk of injury so it’s the best of both worlds!


Katie September 9, 2009 at 12:22 am

I typically pick one rest day a week based on the busiest day of my week. On this day, I do light stretches and yoga poses. I also take my puppy for a ~30-60 minute walk because he’s craaaazy otherwise :)

I’d love to try chia seeds in my morning green monster!


Julia September 9, 2009 at 7:45 am

I walk my dogs on my rest days. I walk them every day anyway, but on “rest” days I try to get in an extra long one :)

I just started experimenting with chia seeds – so much fun!


April September 9, 2009 at 9:44 am

I also take my dog on a long walk on rest days. I can’t rest…i’ll admit it.

I LOVE chia seeds! Especially making it into pudding mmm…


Tiffany September 9, 2009 at 11:48 am

I’m not a runner as of now…I’m 6 months prego, but I plan running after the baby to get back into shape.
I would love to try some chia seeds!!!


Marcia September 9, 2009 at 3:42 pm

You know, YOU are the one who inspired me to actually “rest” on rest days, and not feel like I need to do anything. (Though I don’t mind light walking…sometimes I walk with my 3.5 year old to watch my hubby play tennis…about 20 min walk.)

I’m actually considering changing one of my “rest” days to be a light “loosen up” run. I am training for a 1/2 marathon, and I think that I tend to be really tight on Sundays, so maybe a 2-mile-easy-pace (10 min mile) run might help out.

But Thursdays? Yah, that’s my day off. I don’t do NUTHIN’.


Marcia September 9, 2009 at 3:43 pm

And thanks for the tip on Chia seeds direct. We just bought our first ones at the health food store. $13.99 a pound!!


Sproutz September 12, 2009 at 5:08 pm


So often those with disordered perspectives on exercise forget about the importance of giving their bodies a break. Thank you for reminding us of the physical and psychological benefits of taking a short hiatus from exercise and that giving your body rest when that’s what it wants and needs is not out of laziness or a lack of motivation. The suggestions taken from Runner’s World are valid too, but like you said, we earned the rest and we can spend it however we please! It will help avoid preventable injuries, overtraining, and fatigue – let’s make guilt a thing of the past!


Mary Carole October 8, 2009 at 5:18 pm

Just finished reading “Born to Run” and am anxious to see what chia can do for me!


Toma Grubb October 13, 2009 at 3:00 am

Obviously I missed the deadline for the free chia seed but I like the fact that you are raising awareness. I came to chia and healthy eating in general late in life. When I was 58 I was dying from badly out of control type 2 diabetes. I mean that literally, necrosis had already set in when I got to the ER at the Seattle VA hospital.

By learning to eat right I reversed it. By May 2005 I had learned to eat right, got my glucose and A1C numbers in line and got off all the meds. Chia seed is one of the secrets for good diabetic control. Chia is rich in mucilage fiber which helps control blood glucose. (30 grams of fiber per day.) Of course there is a lot more to controlling type 2 diabetes than chia but it is one of the super foods.

I was at chia direct and saw the link to your blog.


Kathryn July 26, 2010 at 11:38 pm

So thrilled to see my recent interest in Raw foods take me to an article on how to use these Chia seeds I recently bought and to also find an article linked to another passion of mine…running. I try to take at least one rest day a week but it’s hard when I’m trying to fit all my cross training in as well. I only run 3-4 days a week but it seems there are more and more things I want to do (cycle, swim, yoga, weight training) and it’s hard to fit it all in in just 6 days and so most days have at least one activity and many are doubled up. Fortunately, now and then, life intervenes and I am forced to take a day off from activity to attend to other life issues and I am busy enough that I don’t fret about not exercising.


Annie August 30, 2010 at 5:36 am

I truly rest on my rest days. I do my hardest workouts the day before a rest day so that I really feel the need to give my body a break. Annie


Pavielle September 10, 2010 at 3:13 pm

I am trying to get back in shape! A “rest day” is more of a collapse because I’m so tired and sometimes sore. I like the idea of recovering by low intensity activities but it isn’t going to happen this month at least. For now rest is COMPLETE rest!!


Misty H July 28, 2012 at 11:28 am

I LOVE exercising so when it comes to rest days exercise is all I can think about, but I get over it with light activity such as taking my sisters childen to the park (oh yeah, I’m the big kid lol think I play more than the children) a light walk or playing volleyball if my siblings and friends are up for a game (volleyball net and ball set only $20!). After rest day I feel great and my runs and other workouts feel easier to complete. Today I am working, so this rest day will be spent doing absolutely nothing as soon as I get off (on break right now). Thanks for the info, so glad I found your website. Going to check out some recipes now!


Meghan September 23, 2018 at 2:13 pm

This may not be healthy, but I sleep all day on rest days. I weight train and do HIIT 6 days a week plus yoga so I love my rest day. Saturday I take a hike and Sunday I sleep all day, unless I’m scheduled to work and then when bedtime comes around I take z quill— followed by a caffeinated beverage Monday am to power me up for the day after rest day.


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