Your Vital Edge Says Exercise Doesn’t Make You Stronger
Exercise doesn’t make you stronger!

I was speaking to a friend who was so excited and happy that she was working out and feeling better, getting stronger. She was unhappy though because today was her ‘rest day’ where she was not working out and not in the gym. She was suffering through the day and wanted to get back in the gym to exercise. She felt that the rest day was hindering her ability to get stronger and was counterintuitive to her progress; a necessary evil to suffer through.

I didn’t have time to finish that conversation as activities turned us in another direction, but I wondered about her attitude. This attitude is so common to so many people – I think it has to do with the perception of cause and effect. We go to the gym, pool, track and perform some activity that makes us sore, sweat and breathe hard. If done repetitively the activity becomes easier and we can lift more, swim faster run farther. So the conclusion is fairly obvious – the exercise made me stronger.

This attitude leads me to my point about vitality… Vitality is an inborn response to energy. The body will respond to its environment with health and vigor or sickness and weakness by the amount of energy it can draw from. In my friend’s case she equated her feeling stronger and better from the gym time. This is not true! The activities in the gym tear her down and diminish her level of vitality; it is the body’s innate response to stress that builds her up! And her strength comes from her rest time not gym time!

Now stress can be physical as in the exercises in the gym it can be mental and/or emotional even spiritual. The cause of the stress is immaterial, the body responds to any stress with a known pattern; alertness, activity, hyperalertness, overactivity and if stress is not removed: breakdown. The inability to do the activity that you were so passionately involved in will stop because you were forced to stop by your body’s inability to constantly drive at such a breakneck pace. There are common signs of overactivity as overactivity breaks down your immune system so there are colds. Stress creates anxiety and mood swings so restless sleep and relationship troubles with people close to you are common. Focused attention can only go on for so long so there will be loss of focus and accidents happen more frequently.

This is a critical lesson to anyone who has a dream and a vision to make their mark in the world; if you spend your time exclusively on your project without the rest periods to make you stronger and more capable of handling the demands of a busy schedule you will experience the crash that people who overtrain in the gym experience.

Overtraining injuries are common occurrences, people equate the good feelings with working out but don’t realize the endorphin rush and feel good chemicals are in response to the teardown of tissues. The aches of the rest days are the body repairing the damage done in the gym. They start skimping on the rest and do more activity to get the ‘rush’. The body can’t heal the continual damage and the once rested big thick juicy muscles become overstrained thin taut fibrotic cords – beef steak turns into beef jerky. This is a recipe for disaster.

So your event whatever it is, launch of your product, project, book, band or whatever requires long hours and focused attention. Somewhere in that flurry of activity and drum roll of deadlines there must be time for you! And that means rest! Step away from the activity, change gears, have some quiet time. It doesn’t have to be long but it has to be regular. Your body will surprise you with renewed energy, focus and breakthroughs you can’t imagine on this side of the process. As you adopt this practice it will get easier to see that the rest is the fastest way to boost your vitality and is actually helping you to build better, quicker and longer!