How Quality Rest and Recovery Reward You on the Playing Field
Taking time to rest and recover is a key part of your workout and practice routine if you’re a leisure-time athlete. Without quality rest, your body won’t reap the benefits of exercise.
Working out every day to hit your fitness goals sounds like a great idea. But it may be what derails you from reaching your goal. As an amateur athlete, you need adequate recovery time and quality sleep to reap the maximum benefits without hurting yourself.
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The most important part of a proper recovery is quality rest, says sports medicine specialist Laura Goldberg, MD. In fact, the days when you rest and recover are just as important as the days when you run, work out or play sports. Without them, your body won’t rebound.
What happens while you’re at rest
REM sleep is responsible for memory collection. That includes muscle memory. During sleep, the brain consolidates memories learned from practice that day, strengthening motor skills that contribute to physical performance, Dr. Goldberg says.
“When we get quality REM and non-REM sleep, that’s when the body heals,” she says.
Getting proper rest also improves your reaction time. The more alert you are, the faster you’ll be. And you’re less likely to make errors if you’re playing a sport.
“In a tight game, if you’re not getting enough rest, you might not react quite as quickly as you would otherwise,” Dr. Goldberg says.
Additionally, staying well-rested controls your body’s production of the stress hormone cortisol.
If you’re not getting enough rest, your body starts a vicious cycle: Higher cortisol levels leave you too keyed up. You’ll have more difficulty relaxing and letting your body recharge. And that means cortisol levels won’t level out.
You want to push yourself to improve your athletic performance. But giving your body time to recharge between workouts can put you even farther ahead of the competition. Here are just some of the rewards you can reap:
Ultimately, Dr. Goldberg says, pay attention to how your body feels. It will tell you if you need more quality rest.
“If you’re feeling alert and good, then you’re probably getting enough rest,” she says. “If you’re walking around feeling sluggish, it’s probably because your body is in overdrive.”
The bottom line: Make time to rest and recharge and you’ll put in your best effort the next time you go for a run or step onto the playing field.