When To Rest

As I’m sitting here writing this post I have a terrible cold. I don’t feel horrible, but my throat hurts a lot. It started with one of the boys and he happily coughed all over me and everyone else. So now we’ve all had it/gotten it. It made me think about resting, exercise, and how the two intersect.

I’m sure all of you are sitting on pins and needles wondering whether or not I exercised this morning in spite of having a bad head cold!! The answer is yes. But, I didn’t exercise yesterday at all. Today I donned my winter walking gear and took a slow, leisurely walk for about 20 minutes. I tucked my headphones inside my hat and off I went. I purposefully went slow and stopped early. And after I came inside I was glad I had taken a few minutes for exercise because I actually felt a little better.

There have been other times when I started to exercise and found that I truly was miserable. Not just miserable in my mind wishing I could stop, but miserable physically. I usually ascribe to a five-minute rule. If after five minutes I feel worse than I did before I went out, I stop and go back inside. There have been times where I stopped, but more times where I realized I actually felt better outside walking then I had just a few minutes before lounging around.

I’ve known people who have pushed themselves when they had the flu, had a stomach virus, and had a terrible cold. I always think, “Why can’t you just take a rest?” But I don’t say that to them. Instead I just tell them to take it easy on themselves, because a few days of rest is good for the body not bad. If you’ve ever examined a training schedule for runners, there are specific periods of rest incorporated in the schedule. Our bodies need a break, our muscles benefit from a rest day, and sometimes our minds need a rest as well.

Unfortunately, when I was morbidly obese I rested all the time, mistakenly assuming that I would be even more tired if I exercised. Of course I couldn’t have been more wrong. I was doing myself a disservice by resting abundantly instead of exercising abundantly. I hope that you are of the “exercise is beneficial” mindset and not of the “exercise is draining mindset.”  I rested myself all the way to 300 pounds.

When I first started exercising all those years ago I didn’t want to take a break. I tried to go for a walk every day, but quickly realized that I needed to be reasonable. So I settled on six days a week. It’s something I still do today – unless I don’t feel well like today!

I think it’s really important to listen to your bodies signals in all instances. Not only with regards to your food choices, but also in regards to how you physically feel. What are you thoughts on the subject?  Diane

42 thoughts on “When To Rest

  1. Yum Yucky says:

    I am a Master at listening to my bod physically. I could write a book (but I won’t). However, that 2nd slice of pie last night is proof that I stomp the red flags that fly to warn me of foodie stuff. I shall start a do-over today and “do” myself some good by eating right all weekend.
    .-= Yum Yucky´s last blog ..Stupid Diet Tip #79 =-.

  2. Michelle@Eatingjourney says:

    Exercise for me is a funny thing. To be honest I am a closet revolter.

    Put a diet in from of me and I’ll cheat. Tell me I have to exercise every day…I’ll lay in bed.

    I think..far too often…people don’t look at the benefits of exercise..it becomes a tool for losing weight. Let me flush this out. People FEEL like they have to exercise cause they ate this or that or because everyone else is doing it.

    I think what you sad about doing a walk everyday for the sake of feeling good mentally is important. Exercise can become like food, an obsession. The more important thing regardless of losing weight, training, improving your health, staying in a relationship, quitting a job (get the point) is to LISTEN TO YOUR BODY.

    You’re gut is a pretty good litmus test for life..so don’t throw it into the wind.
    .-= Michelle@Eatingjourney´s last blog ..Bottled H-two-O–It’s POISON! =-.

  3. Miz says:

    Im way way too kind to myself as I age.
    its a great thing in that Ive never been injured AT ALL (knock wood :)) but it is a “thing” in that I have goals I may never reach as a result (marathon).
    I listen to my core (the inner not the midsection :)) and if Im just tired and need a break—–I take it.
    .-= Miz´s last blog ..A MizFit Hanukkah. =-.

  4. Marcelle says:

    I hope you feel better soon Diane…and I know how we always tell other people to take a break as we know its the right thing to do but when it comes to us we don’t listen to our own advice.

    I also train 6x a week, if not 6 then 5….I used to be so lazy I would go months without training and know I can so very easily fall back into that rut again so make sure I go even when not in the mood as I do feel better afterwards.

    I have just walked in from gym now…am off to shower – did an hours step class and ran for 5kl on treadmill which took me 34 mins…
    Its snowing outside…looking so beautiful here, like a magical wonderland…am not used to snow coming from Africa, so really loving it and it uplifts my spirit.
    .-= Marcelle´s last blog ..Letter to myself. =-.

  5. Diane says:

    I hope you get over your cold soon ! We moms should get a “Get out of sickness”card at our disposal. I think it is best to listen to your body in ALL things, but I wanted to point out to you that you did something that will help you shake this sooner. You got outside and took a walk. Fresh air take deep into your lungs ( as long as it is not freezing) helps your respiratory tract to work more efficiently at recovering, and the Vitamin D boost from the sunshine will help your immune system battle this. Plus moving around will increase your dopamine levels and you will just plain feel better. Now get plenty of liquids in you , and you will be on the mend in no time !
    .-= Diane´s last blog ..It begins =-.

  6. Mia says:

    Hope you feel better soon! I totally sympathize with you as a mother. It is not like we can call into work sick and stay home in bed!

    I also had a chuckle at the comment that you put on your winter walking gear! What is that in Florida? A hat and gloves?? LOL! Today, to go out and walk, I would need my underarmour, my winter thermal biking pants, 2 or 3 layers on top including my sub zero winter workout coat! And though I don’t run, my husband puts on Yak Traks on his running shoes! (These are metal “cleat” things that increase the traction of your shoes so you can run on the snow and ice.) Sounds like, and is, a lot of layers but that’s how you survive in Wisconsin!

    As for exercising when ill, my rule of thumb is that if it involves the neck up then go ahead but don’t push it. Any involvement below the neck, such as a fever, chest cough or body aches, means you need rest more than exercise.


    • Diane says:

      Mia – We used to live in Florida but are now further north! So I do need several layers – the other day it was 19 degrees and that is cold! Maybe tomorrow I’ll have my daughter take my pic in my winter gear so you can see.

      I can’t imagine living so far north as Wisconsin – I think I’d turn into an icecube!

  7. vickie says:

    it IS hard (I think) to tell when we really need to take a break and when we are taking advantage of the situation and turning into a slug.

    and if we have any type of chronic problem (for me it is my knees, my lower back, my asthma and my inner ear thing) then it becomes even trickier.

    I have to literally weigh my options (pun). Am I putting myself at greater risk (to injury) by pushing – or do I need to push?

    I have had three breaks this year. One was a week when I was just plain tired. One was almost 3 weeks because I had some form of walking pneumonia, and one was a couple weeks ago when I blew out my lower back and had to rest for a full week and then start back up slowly for another week. In retrospect – all three of those were ‘real’. And I took care of myself. But I am always suspicious. Because the old me is lurking in there somewhere. and I totally realize that I can turn nearly anything at all into a reason not to move.
    .-= vickie´s last blog ..Communicating to Clerks =-.

  8. cindy says:

    It’s important to listen to your body but sometimes just getting out in the fresh air can make me feel better and also gets me some vitamin D.
    .-= cindy´s last blog ..SIMILAR =-.

  9. susan says:

    I think that you bring up a great point about the difference between being lazy and really needing a day off. I find that I can be lazy, inventing excuses where there are none. I don’t exercise as much as I am capable of but that is one of my goals for the upcoming year.

  10. Lori (Finding Radiance) says:

    Hope you are feeling better!

    I have trouble with taking rest days in general. And not just with exercise, either. I always feel like I need to go,go,go with everything!

    I actually very rarely get sick or injured, so the only reasons I take it easy are days where I have just worked out too hard the day before or done an event that made me tired. I plan recovery times into my workouts so I am more likely to take them.

  11. Andrea@WellnessNotes says:

    Listening to my body can be tricky for me. I was quite sick a few weeks ago but still worked out every day (when I probably should have taken a couple rest days). I think it may be because a few years ago I listen too much when my body said “I want to sit on the couch today”… I’ll try to listen more; it’s so important for overall health and injury prevention…

  12. Sunny says:

    to this day, I don’t (and obviously never will) do traditional exercise. I don’t even take walks (because the dogs want to go and they are too slow LOL)…I dance. Only form of exercise. Because I know myself well; if it isn’t bringing me joy to do it, I won’t do it. Dancing fits the bill. Before April, I’d do 30 minutes of exercise a YEAR.
    .-= Sunny´s last blog ..I Did It!!! =-.

  13. Bearfriend says:

    Hi Diane. Hope you’re feeling better soon. Right now I am struggling to breathe so I won’t be walking anywhere. But I can’t wait to get back to it! It is incredibly frustrating not being able to do the things you want or need to do. But I too often find myself wondering why people are pushing themselves when they’re obviously too ill. Maybe it’s the fear that if you stop for too long you’ll struggle to get going again. I am worried about this, but I don’t have a choice right now.

    Best wishes,
    Bearfriend xx
    .-= Bearfriend´s last blog ..Still ill =-.

  14. Pam says:

    I sure hope you feel better soon, Diane! I am still learning the art of listening to my body, and I think I don’t rest enough when I need to and sometimes more than I should when I really don’t need to. Its all trial and error, I guess!
    .-= Pam´s last blog ..Weigh In =-.

  15. MySensei says:

    I am a firm believer in listening to my body. If I feel an ounce better while sick and push myself, I end up feeling 1000’s times worse. I learned the hard way but now a days always keep an ear out to what my body tells me! Hope you feel better!!!!
    .-= MySensei´s last blog ..Healthy Holiday Gift Ideas 2009 =-.

  16. Dr. J says:

    From my experience, some people can listen to their body, and some seem to be listening to someone else’s body 🙂

    I have always exercised when I’ve had a cold. Sometimes, it’s the only time I feel OK while sick. It’s an individual thing. I don’t think being active is a problem, but that’s just me. I believe the research supports this.

  17. kimmers says:

    diane, i was struggling with this exact thing last night. I’m trying to make it to the gym 100 times in 6 months (to earn a prize through my gym’s incentive program), which equivalates to 16 times/month. I made 15 in month 1 and am on target to pass that in month 2, however, I developed this horrendous cough monday morning, and it has gotten progressively worse. Yesterday, I so did not want to go to the gym, but there was a part of me that did. So I got there, and did 1/2 hour on the elliptical instead of the 1 hour i had hoped for. I was able to get SOME exercise in and, one more attendance check on my record. In the end, I felt a little worse for the wear, so I’m not sure if it was one of those times where a little exercise goes a long way. I may have overdone it. I like your 5 min rule, I’m going to try that tonight (Plus I’m feeling a lot better this morning) and see how it goes. Especially since the gym doesn’t care how LONG i’m there, just if I scan in that day, so I can get the attendance, and take care of myself.
    Thanks for your input on this topic!

  18. Jody - Fit at 52 says:

    Diane, I listen to the bod & luckily I don’t get sick that often.. hardly ever… now watch me get sick! :0 So, in terms of cold vs. flu, I go based on how I feel & whether the cold is above the shoulders & just sniffles or it is the flu & body aches/fever. I have worked out with the cold/above the shoulders stuff & I usually feel better. I just modify to how I am feeling.

    I am one that wants to NOT miss a workout so this is always hard for me BUT I have learned over time NOT to work out 7 days a week! My younger crazy years! I do intense workouts so I do a 5 day on & 2 days off which seems to work for me. We all have to listen to our own bods & pay attention to what they are telling us. The hard part, doing what that bod is telling us! 🙂 Well, at least for me!
    .-= Jody – Fit at 52´s last blog ..Kickboxing Update; Healthier Gingerbread Cookie =-.

  19. Brooke says:

    i took a couple weeks off exercise. the first week was my “recovery” from my half marathon – i had read about it, surely i need to take a week off like the internet says, right? (the answer – wrong). by week 2 it was hard to get back into things. and i felt horrible.

    i’m back at it this week and feel great (if a little tired from getting up at 5:30 this morning to work out).

  20. Fran says:

    I hope you feel better soon Diane!

    I listen to my body, if I need to I rest even though I feel guilty then but I know it’s the best to do. When I had my ICUD replaced two weeks ago I felt I needed to give my body time to get used to it and I didn’t exercise for 5 days and on the 6th day I went running and had a new PR on the 5K. This confirmed that taking a rest every now and then is good for the body when it’s asking for it.
    .-= Fran´s last blog ..A day in my life: Wednesday December 16th 2009 =-.

  21. Kat says:

    Hi Diane, It sounds like you do a pretty good job at listening yourself when it comes to exercise. I try to do something everyday and I push myself when my body is up to it and sometimes I just do some gentle rebounding to get my energy moving. It sounds like the walk was a good thing for you yesterday. I hope you feel better soon.
    .-= Kat´s last blog ..Day 30 of The 30 Day Shred =-.

  22. Larkspur says:

    I have to say I agree– tired is not a great reason, because time and time again I’ve proved to myself that exercise gives me energy (so long as it isn’t something unusually long or taxing). I don’t get sick that often, knock wood, but when I do, I don’t exercise and I feel fine about that decision.
    .-= Larkspur´s last blog ..Exactly =-.

  23. Cammy@TippyToeDiet says:

    If I have a cold or sniffles, I stay away from the gym in favor of exercising at home or outdoors. If I do exercise, I use something similar to the 5-minute rule, only I use distance instead. There’s a place on my neighborhood route where I can turn right and come home, or turn left and make a longer circuit. If I’m not feeling better and more energetic, I turn left. If not, I come home and have a big cup of diet cocoa. 🙂
    .-= Cammy@TippyToeDiet´s last blog ..My Dog Ate My Workout and Other Randomness =-.

  24. Nicole, MS, RD, LD says:

    I’m harder on people. I am a firm believer in your body telling you what you need. It “bugs” me when people ask if they should workout despite feeling horrible, and if they workout, how hard to push? Rest is good! Taking it easy when ill is advisable! Great post, glad you took it easy!

  25. Susan says:

    I have rules set out for myself when I should and shouldn’t work out. A runny nose or cough is something I’ll work through. But if it’s in my chest, or I feel dizzy, cold or achy, I lay off.

    When I first started losing weight, I made myself do 30 minutes every single day. Mostly because in the past I’d set the goal of going to the gym three days a week, which would eventually turn into two, then one, then, well, you know 😉 As my workouts got more intense, I realized I required more rest. Now I work out 5 days a week, so long as I’m feeling up to it. Some high intensity, some more medium intensity. It seems works for me 🙂
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Flashing Back to Christmases of Past =-.

  26. Leah says:

    I completely agree with you on this one. I agree both with resting when your body calls for it, and also not allowing “I need a rest.” to become an excuse for not exercising.

    Remember my week or so ago when I felt yucky and rested. Though I was wracked with guilt for not working out it turned out for the better. My head cold and sore throat didn’t go any further than that and I’m sure it’s because I rested.

    So, take it easy and thanks for encouraging others to do the same. 🙂

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