Give Me A Break!

So let me tell you something odd I noticed, after the long weekend.

Here in the US, Monday was Labor Day. The markets are closed for the holiday, and my department is off work on a holiday that day. So, when I left work Friday at 1;30, I was staring right into the teeth of a three-day weekend. And it was brutally hot (91 F and nearly 100% humidity), and my legs ached from all the walking, and I said “Screw it. I’m taking a few days off.”

So, for three days I didn’t track my calories. Not with any efficiency, anyway. And, although I walked and my FitBit recorded the distance, I didn’t really worry about how far I was going. Or for how long. Or anything else, really. The most exercise I got was when we all went to the Ohio Renaissance Festival on Saturday, and melted under the blazing, humid sky. I logged 4.61 miles that day (didn’t actually realize it until just now), but that hardly seemed to count as exercise. It was fun.

Scorching hot, mind you. But fun.

As a result, I was expecting to be a wreck when I got back up on the wagon yesterday. But something interesting happened. I felt better than I had at any point up until now. My legs didn’t ache when I dragged myself out of my work chair after two hours of sitting. I climbed a total of 23 flights of stairs – given the brutal heat and humidity there was no way I was hitting the nature trail, so I needed to do something to help step up the exercise a little. And I walked 5.22 miles, the first day I’ve hit that goal since setting it as a daily goal a week ago.

And, at no point did anything hurt. Oh, I won’t pretend I wasn’t out of breath around the two-thirds mark on the stairs I was climbing (three floors at a time, but with a rectangular “spiral staircase’ that takes three flights of stairs per floor), but that passed quickly. Heck, I felt like I had a spring in my step. I felt… lighter.

None of this should be a surprise to me, I guess. I mean, as a doctor I make a fine stockbroker. But, everything I’ve looked up on this topic (no specific links, sadly – just search for “exercise and rest’) agrees that you need to let your body recover after strenuous exercise. Heck, the Mayo Clinic – my go-to for online medical information – actually says

“Starting a fitness program? Don’t get carried away. Working out too intensely or too often increases your risk of injury and burnout. Remember to alternate hard workouts with easier ones. And plan time between sessions for your body to rest and recover.”
Exercise: Designate an easy day 

Oh, look. I lied to you all. There’s a link.

So, when you get around to it, I know you can’t really trust anecdotal evidence when dealing with science and medicine. But, it’s nice when the anecdotes back up the medical professionals, isn’t it? It makes trusting their advice a whole lot easier.

Give yourself that day to relax a little. Stay on track with controlling your calories, of course (I didn’t, but I got lucky and still walked more and burned more calories than I realized), but don’t push for that day or two. But schedule it. Let your body rest and heal, and you’ll feel the better for it.

Also, really try not to go walk four miles in 91 degree 100% humidity weather. That’s another tip to help you feel better while exercising.

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