Finding The Balance Between Exercise, Rest And Relaxation 

Have you ever found yourself coming home from work feeling exhausted after a long day, yet in two minds as to whether you should sit down and put your feet up, or take advantage of any spare time and head to the gym?

We all know that exercising is important for maintaining good health, yet did you know that getting enough rest and relaxation is equally as important?

The key lies in finding that balance between getting enough rest and relaxation, without neglecting your exercising sessions.

Have you ever noticed how easy it is for your mind to convince you, that you need a rest (and possibly a snack too!) when really the tiredness you feel could be cured by a quick jog or HIIT session?

Sometimes the best cure for feeling lethargic is to get yourself up and get yourself moving!

On the flip side, pushing yourself to do too much exercise, in the pursuit of attaining specific fitness goals, will not only leave you feeling physically exhausted. It can also increase your risk of injury, and potentially even hinder your progress.

So how do you find the ideal balance between exercise, rest and relaxation, so that you can support your health and wellbeing, whilst making sure you are getting the most out of life?

Well, unfortunately, there is no exact answer that suits everyone. This is because we all have different goals that we are working towards. We all have different health requirements we follow, and we all have different lifestyles and responsibilities.

So what works for you, might not work as well for the next person.

But by having a good understanding of the roles that exercise, rest and relaxation play in your life, as well as how they work together to help enhance your health and happiness, you can better determine just how much or how little of each you need.

Exercise - Exercise is essential for maintaining a healthy body and mind. Its benefits include:

- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Strengthening and toning your body.
- Keeping you flexible and independent.
- Supporting the function of the many different internal systems of your body.
- Stimulating the endocrine system which is responsible for the production of ‘happy hormones’ (basically exercising helps keep you happy!).
- When it comes to exercise, though, it is not just about getting enough exercise, it is also about getting the right kind of exercise!

This means finding a healthy balance between resistance and endurance training.

  • Resistance training - Resistance training increases muscle strength by making them work against resistance or weight. For example, weight training, pilates, or push-ups are all resistance training exercises. Keeping your muscles strong is important, even if looking toned and muscly isn’t a priority for you. This is because the stronger your body is, the less likely you are to hurt yourself and the more independent and capable you are. Plus there is the advantage of burning calories. The more muscle fibres you have, the more calories you will burn doing simple things like standing up and walking to the refrigerator! 

  • Endurance training - Endurance training, also known as cardio training, works at strengthening your cardiovascular system, as well as numerous other internal systems like your respiratory and circulatory systems. In simple terms, cardio keeps your heart and lungs healthy! This is important for staving off disease, as well as preventing you from collapsing when walking up two flights of stairs! Exercises such as cycling, jogging, skipping and HIIT are all considered endurance style training.

Rest (sleep) - The average adult needs between 7-9 hours of sleep per night on a regular basis. Even though you might find you work just fine with a lot less, chances are that if you constantly miss out on getting enough sleep, you will notice it affect your ability to concentrate, store and recall memories as well as solve problems. It may even cause you to feel irritable, emotional or more easily angered.

On a physical level sleep plays an essential role in numerous vital functions of your body, including cell production. This is why getting enough sleep is so important in achieving your fitness goals because it is during sleep that your body works to rebuild and repair the muscle fibres that get stressed and damaged during exercise. If you are not getting enough sleep, you might find your body takes longer to recover from strenuous workouts and struggles with finding the energy to continue exercising.

Relaxation - Relaxation is essential not only for the benefit of resting your body but also for allowing your mind to unwind and relax. Stress is commonplace in many people's lives, yet too much stress can really impact on your physical and mental health. This is why taking time out to do things that help you relax are so important to your overall well being.

Relaxation is quite a personal choice though because what one person finds relaxing, might not be quite as enjoyable for another.

Not sure how to relax? Here are some excellent ‘relaxation’ techniques that you can use to help support your health and wellbeing:

- Meditation
- Yoga
- Nature walks
- Bubble baths
- Tai Chi
- Art or music
- Dancing

Finding Your Own Balance 

Knowing why you need exercise, rest and relaxation is one thing, but incorporating them into your life in a way that works well for you, is another.

Here are some basic tips to help ensure you have all your bases covered:

  • Regulate your sleep - If you are finding your mind or body are feeling a little out of balance, then it's a good idea to reflect on how much sleep you are getting. Aim to get between 7-9 hours each night and try to be consistent in when you go to bed and when you wake up each day. Having consistency in your sleeping patterns will help ensure you get the most out of your rest and will promote your health and wellbeing.
  • Fuel yourself well - If you are feeling out of balance energetically, then it is also important to reflect on your diet. A healthy diet, rich in fresh foods, is essential to fuelling you with enough energy each day.
  • Make time just for you - Don’t compromise your health by putting everything else before you. Make some time each week to do something that relaxes you and makes you feel happy. The more relaxed and happy you feel, the better equipped you will be to deal with any stresses that come your way!
  • Mix up your workout - Make sure your workouts are balanced. You might be an avid runner, or solely enjoy Pilates, yet mixing it up so that you have both resistance training and endurance training in your weekly schedule will help keep your mind and body as healthy as possible.
  • Consolidate being active with having fun - Exercise doesn't just have to be hard work, it can be fun too! Try to incorporate some fun activities that get your body working, such as sports, swimming, bushwalking, a yoga class or riding a bike. This way you can keep active and healthy whilst also relaxing and having fun.
  • Listen to your body - Last but not least, listen to what your body is telling you! Don’t push yourself to exercise if you are unwell or still sore from a previous training session and if you are feeling lazy or lethargic because you haven’t been exercising in a while, then fit in some active time before you switch off in front of your telly!