Rest time during physical activity

PDF download is not available for Arabic and Urdu languages at this time. Please use the browser print function instead

girl walking dog

Building rest time into any activity program is important. Adequate rest allows your body to:

  • repair itself
  • restore its energy levels
  • adapt to the stress of the activity
  • gain the true benefits of exercise.

If you do not allow time to rest, your body will not be able to recover and you may be at greater risk for injury and more pain.

You can build rest time into your routine by alternating vigorous and less vigorous activities, for instance switching between running and walking. You might also choose to alternate the muscle groups you exercise, perhaps by switching between your arms and legs when doing strengthening exercises.

How much rest you need to take completely depends on you. For example, you might be able to take part in moderate aerobic activities (for example walking, cycling or swimming) every day without making your pain worse. If you’re doing more vigorous activities, you might need to rest for 24 to 48 hours between them. But remember that you should still try to do some type of physical activity every day, even just a short walk!

Here are some examples of how an exercise program might look like over a week. Tip: The tables below are best viewed in landscape mode if you are accessing the content on a smartphone, tablet or other mobile device.

Moderate activity level

Sun MonTuesWedThursFriSat
Walk in park with family Attend gym class Bike after work (20 mins); walk dog (30 mins) Attend gym class (30-60 min); play badminton after work (60 min) Do yoga class with mom Walk in mall with friends Play Frisbee at park with friend (60 min); walk dog (30 min)
30 min 60 min 50 min 120 min 60 min 90 min 90 min

Light activity level

Even if you are not meeting the daily recommended levels for moderate physical activity, it is important to have some active uptime every day.

Sun MonTuesWedThursFriSat
Walk up/down one flight of stairs three times Lift 1 lb weights (10 min); walk around block (10 min), taking four breaks Walk up/down one flight of stairs three times Lift 1 lb weights (10 min); walk around block (10 min), taking four breaks Walk up/down one flight of stairs three times Lift 1 lb weights (10 min); walk with friends at mall (30 min) Walk in park with mom
15 min 20 min 15 min 20 min 15 min 40 min 20 min
Last updated: May 2nd 2016