'Rest Days' Are Important: 4 Ways to Make the Most of Them

iStock
iStock

Consider this your permission to skip the gym today: Exercising too much without giving your body a break might make you sick, according to new research published in the journal Frontiers of Physiology. Researchers at Catholic University of Brasilia observed people who do CrossFit on a regular basis to see how the high-intensity exercise affected their muscles and immune system. After two consecutive days of the rigorous workout, people showed reduced levels of anti-inflammatory cytokines—proteins that white blood cells produce to help lower inflammation. In effect, the back-to-back workouts with no rest were hampering their immune function.

That study looked at CrossFitters specifically, but they’re not the only ones who need a little R&R. Taking some time off from the gym is essential, no matter what kind of workout you tend to do—whether it’s weight-lifting or running or something low-impact like a barre class. “Rest days are important regardless of intensity level because you’re placing the body and mind under some form of stress,” says Marlon Briscoe, a certified personal trainer and owner of BodyByBriscoe Studios in New York City. “Imagine going to school or work 365 days a year with no break—how would you feel?”

Keep reading for his tips about how to make the most of your days off.

1. TAKE OFF AT LEAST ONE DAY A WEEK.

If you’ve been exercising regularly for a while and are fairly advanced, you can probably get away with working out three or four consecutive days without any time off, says Briscoe; but even so, make sure to take off at least one full day each week. If you’re a newbie, you might want to ease into a routine and give yourself another day or two off (spread them out throughout the week).

“When you have a day or two off between workouts, your body will be able to come back at full force,” says Briscoe. Plus, he says, your mind will be rested, “so you’ll also be more encouraged to continue your program.”

2. ON WORKOUT DAYS, MIX IT UP.

If you do work out a few days in a row, make sure to target different muscles—for instance, do arms one day and legs the next, or alternate running days with cross-training. “Muscles break down during exercise and repair when you’re at rest,” says Briscoe. So if you keep working the same muscles over and over, they don’t get the chance to build themselves back up. “You’ll compromise your results if you work out the same body parts on consecutive days,” he says.

Another reason to change up the routine: You’ll lower your chances of injury. If your muscles are tight or sore and you try to work through the pain, you have a great chance of harming yourself, says Briscoe.

3. ON YOUR OFF DAYS, BE LAZY.

Don’t be tempted to go for an easy bike ride, jog, or yoga class on your day off—because you won’t really be giving your body the break it needs. “A rest day should be just that: rest,” says Briscoe.

If you want to do something a little active, he advises sticking to easy stretching (holding each stretch for at least 30 seconds) or foam rolling. Those will help keep your muscles loose without putting too much added strain on them.

4. PAY ATTENTION TO THE P.M.

Getting enough Zs is another key component to your recovery post-workout, says Briscoe. He also recommends eating something with casein protein before you head to bed to help your muscles further recover while you sleep. Science has shown this is a good strategy; in fact, downing a beverage with casein protein half an hour before bedtime improved exercisers’ protein synthesis rates (which helps repair muscles) by 22 percent in a 2012 study published in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. So feel free to enjoy a protein shake as a midnight snack.

10 of the Most Popular Portable Bluetooth Speakers on Amazon

Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon
Altech/Bose/JBL/Amazon

As convenient as smartphones and tablets are, they don’t necessarily offer the best sound quality. But a well-built portable speaker can fill that need. And whether you’re looking for a speaker to use in the shower or a device to take on a long camping trip, these bestselling models from Amazon have you covered.

1. OontZ Angle 3 Bluetooth Portable Speaker; $26-$30 (4.4 stars)

Oontz portable bluetooth speaker
Cambridge Soundworks/Amazon

Of the 57,000-plus reviews that users have left for this speaker on Amazon, 72 percent of them are five stars. So it should come as no surprise that this is currently the best-selling portable Bluetooth speaker on the site. It comes in eight different colors and can play for up to 14 hours straight after a full charge. Plus, it’s splash proof, making it a perfect speaker for the shower, beach, or pool.

Buy it: Amazon

2. JBL Charge 3 Waterproof Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $110 (4.6 stars)

JBL portable bluetooth speaker
JBL/Amazon

This nifty speaker can connect with up to three devices at one time, so you and your friends can take turns sharing your favorite music. Its built-in battery can play music for up to 20 hours, and it can even charge smartphones and tablets via USB.

Buy it: Amazon

3. Anker Soundcore Bluetooth Speaker; $25-$28 (4.6 stars)

Anker portable bluetooth speaker
Anker/Amazon

This speaker boasts 24-hour battery life and a strong Bluetooth connection within a 66-foot radius. It also comes with a built-in microphone so you can easily take calls over speakerphone.

Buy it: Amazon

4. Bose SoundLink Color Bluetooth Speaker; $129 (4.4 stars)

Bose portable bluetooth speaker
Bose/Amazon

Bose is well-known for building user-friendly products that offer excellent sound quality. This portable speaker lets you connect to the Bose app, which makes it easier to switch between devices and personalize your settings. It’s also water-resistant, making it durable enough to handle a day at the pool or beach.

Buy it: Amazon

5. DOSS Soundbox Touch Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $28-$33 (4.4 stars)

DOSS portable bluetooth speaker
DOSS/Amazon

This portable speaker features an elegant system of touch controls that lets you easily switch between three methods of playing audio—Bluetooth, Micro SD, or auxiliary input. It can play for up to 20 hours after a full charge.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Altec Lansing Mini Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $15-$20 (4.3 stars)

Altec Lansing portable bluetooth speaker
Altec Lansing/Amazon

This lightweight speaker is built for the outdoors. With its certified IP67 rating—meaning that it’s fully waterproof, shockproof, and dust proof—it’s durable enough to withstand harsh environments. Plus, it comes with a carabiner that can attach to a backpack or belt loop.

Buy it: Amazon

7. Tribit XSound Go Bluetooth Speaker; $33-$38 (4.6 stars)

Tribit portable bluetooth speaker
Tribit/Amazon

Tribit’s portable Bluetooth speaker weighs less than a pound and is fully waterproof and resistant to scratches and drops. It also comes with a tear-resistant strap for easy transportation, and the rechargeable battery can handle up to 24 hours of continuous use after a full charge. In 2020, it was Wirecutter's pick as the best budget portable Bluetooth speaker on the market.

Buy it: Amazon

8. VicTsing SoundHot C6 Portable Bluetooth Speaker; $18 (4.3 stars)

VicTsing portable bluetooth speaker
VicTsing/Amazon

The SoundHot portable Bluetooth speaker is designed for convenience wherever you go. It comes with a detachable suction cup and a carabiner so you can keep it secure while you’re showering, kayaking, or hiking, to name just a few.

Buy it: Amazon

9. AOMAIS Sport II Portable Wireless Bluetooth Speaker; $30 (4.4 stars)

AOMAIS portable bluetooth speaker
AOMAIS/Amazon

This portable speaker is certified to handle deep waters and harsh weather, making it perfect for your next big adventure. It can play for up to 15 hours on a full charge and offers a stable Bluetooth connection within a 100-foot radius.

Buy it: Amazon

10. XLEADER SoundAngel Touch Bluetooth Speaker; $19-$23 (4.4 stars)

XLeader portable bluetooth speaker
XLEADER/Amazon

This stylish device is available in black, silver, gold, and rose gold. Plus, it’s equipped with Bluetooth 5.0, a more powerful technology that can pair with devices up to 800 feet away. The SoundAngel speaker itself isn’t water-resistant, but it comes with a waterproof case for protection in less-than-ideal conditions.

Buy it: Amazon

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

Joshua Tree National Park Closes Two Campgrounds Due to ‘Aggressive’ Honey Bees

Dietmar Rabich, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0
Dietmar Rabich, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 4.0

Just a few months after closing the entire park due to the COVID-19 crisis, Joshua Tree National Park is shutting down two of its campgrounds. This time, aggressive bee activity is the culprit, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Aggressive honey bees (not to be confused with the murder hornets that made headlines in May) have invaded the Jumbo Rocks and Cottonwood campgrounds at Joshua Tree National Park. The insects were spotted swarming vehicles and campsites, putting visitors in harm's way.

Joshua Tree superintendent David Smith told the Los Angeles Times that the bees are "standard honey bees" and a natural part of the desert ecosystem. While seeing a few at a time is normal, they can be dangerous in large numbers—especially when they're thirsty. Parched honey bees will look for water anywhere they can find it, including trash bags, picnic tables, and vehicle air conditioning condensers. By clearing the affected areas of campers for a while, park officials hope the honey bees will find moisture from a safer, natural water source.

According to Joshua Tree's National Park Service page, the Jumbo Rocks campground will remain closed through July 23. The Cottonwood area is also temporarily closed, but the staff is working to get it open as quickly as possible, with no reopening date set yet. The closures mean camping at Joshua Tree will be even more difficult for visitors this summer. Through September 4, all campsites there are first come, first served.

[h/t Los Angeles Times]