Fit For Life: Why Rest Will Make You More Fit

Saturday, June 22, 2013


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You always hear about the importance of exercise and staying active, but it's just as important to give your body the rest it needs.

All this talk about doing, now I want to stress the importance of UNdoing. While I believe that every time you work out you need to bring it on hard, and train like a warrior, preparing to fight gladiators; but on the flip side, your body must be able to withstand the punishment, and only two things insure that: rest and nutrition (hydration falls in the category of nutrition).

It is impossible to train with 100% intensity if you are injured, sore, unmotivated, or fatigued. Over training elevates cortisol, that sympathetic fight or flight hormone, and elevated cortisol over long bouts of time, causes your body to enter defense mode making it tougher to burn fat, and it slows down healing, impairs digestion, metabolism and mental function. So you work yourself hard, without attention to rest and recovery, you can end up with a negative result–not a good result, for all your blood, sweat, and tears.

Other problems associated with over training include recurrent injuries like tendinitis, stress fractures, adrenal fatigue, and chronic fatigue, amenorrhea, or absence of menstrual periods in women, constant muscle & joint soreness, regression (not making any gains in the gym or on the field), exhaustion, illness caused by a weakened immune system, and irritability.

Take a day off from strenuous physical activity every three workouts, or as necessary. I know there are lots of workout fanatics out there who will say you don’t need to do this, that only working out constantly will get results; but we also need to exercise some common sense, and pay attention to our bodies. Just like when you feel hunger pangs, you eat, so when you feel overly exhausted and sore, rest. This is perhaps what makes me different from an average personal trainer, because it’s where my holistic training comes into play. My advice–train hard and rest easy. As with many things in life, it’s all about balance.

You want to do something that makes you feel good, and relax. If you say intense exercise relaxes you, you are not doing it right. No, doing yoga, correctly, isn’t a “break”. Some yoga classes are as tough as any other workout.

So, as I’ve given advice on exercise–here are my suggestions on rest and rejuvenation:

Take a meditative walk, leave your phone and music behind.

Get in touch with yourself and nature, by paying attention to your posture, foot strike, breathing fresh air, and core stability.


Increases circulation which speeds muscle repair, and regeneration, increases disease fighting white blood cells/decreases cortisol, and heals the body. And, it feels great.

Sleep eight hours.

This is tough for some, but you need to make the effort. The benefits of sleep are enormous, including mood elevation and mental alertness. Many of our bodies’ major restorative functions like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep. Sleep also lowers adenosine levels in your system. Adenosine levels are thought to lead our perception of being tired. Sleep improves memory, is said to help us live longer, curbs inflammation, spurs creativity, improves performance, sharpens attention, lowers stress, and lowers depression.

Spa day.

Whatever you can afford to do... do it!

Lay in the grass/hammock and take a nap.

Sit around the house.

Veg (literally) out, watch a movie or TV–it’s ok.

E-njoy yourself
T-rain harder

Although I’m not an advocate of pharmaceuticals, look at exercise like medication, too much is an overdose, too little is not effective, you need to find the proper dose–and balance between exercise and rest–for maximum success.

What to get fit this summer with a friend? Email Matt at that you read about him on GoLocal for a 2 for 1 rate. You must train together, but think of the motivational benefits!

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Matt Espeut has worked as a personal trainer for almost 20 years with clients ranging in age from 14 to 86. His focus is on overall health, strength, and functional conditioning. Holistic health and nutrition is the cornerstone of all his programs. Matt works in private and small group training available at your home or office location or at gym facilities. Matt offers his services to everyone wanting to be more fit and healthy, overweight young people, youth/collegiate athletes, and seniors. Matt has worked and continues to train at several facilities in the Providence area including Gold's Gym and CORE Studio, and he believes continued education is a must in his field. Email Matt: [email protected], check out his website at or on Facebook at Matt Espeut or on Twitter @MattEspeut.


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