What Is the Difference Between Relative Rest and Absolute Rest?

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Published: April 23, 2023

Rest is a very important part of life. A lot of us feel like we are being unproductive or lazy when we are resting, but sometimes it’s the best choice we can make. It’s also essential to know the difference between relative rest and absolute rest. Once you know the difference, you know which one to apply in which situation. Taking the right kind of rest will help you create and maintain a healthy lifestyle and will make you more productive, and active, and help you see the results you’re looking for. Expert DubaiPT Personal Trainers are here to tell you more about this, so let’s dive in!

What is relative rest?

We can describe relative rest as a period of reduced activity. We can still do exercises, but they are usually modified during relative rest. These modified exercises, such as Muay Thai training in Dubai, allow us to take a break while still being active. Relative rest is also helpful when we are recovering from an intense workout, but don’t want to completely stop.

Man in sports gear stretching
Relative rest is most needed when exercising

An example of relative rest is when, after an intense workout, you do some stretching or low-impact exercises that will help your muscles recover. This does not mean you completely stop working out, but you are simply reducing the activity. For example, if you are doing a HIIT workout, it is as important to stretch in between exercises as it is to do it before and after working out. The goal of relative rest is to allow your body to recover while still maintaining some level of physical activity.

Why is this type of rest needed?

A lot of people, especially those who are physically active, are sometimes scared of taking rest. This is because the brain makes us think that if we rest, we are missing out or being lazy. However, this is wrong. Both relative rest and absolute rest are important, depending on which one we need. Also, being active 24/7 is impossible and even dangerous, as humans are not programmed to be without rest.

So, make sure you know which kind of rest you need and make sure you take it whenever it is needed. If you are recovering from intense gym workouts, try a home workout. It is one of the things you can do if you feel like your body needs to take it easy but you don’t want to completely stop working out. This way you are still being very active, while also allowing your body to “breathe”.

What is absolute rest?

As you can probably assume, absolute rest represents the complete cessation of any physical activity. While relative rest still allows us to reach some levels of activity, absolute rest means that no physical activity is allowed. This type of rest is usually recommended or prescribed after surgery or injury. People who experience one of those are usually advised by professionals to avoid any movement or exercise that could potentially worsen their condition.

Woman laying in her bed, researching relative rest and absolute rest
Absolute rest allows the body to recover properly

The goal of absolute rest is to allow your body to properly and completely recover without putting extra stress on it. Both absolute rest and relative rest have their benefits and drawbacks. However, it’s very important to be aware of which one you need and act accordingly.

Why is this type of rest recommended?

As we mentioned, absolute rest is good when we are going through a serious recovery such as after surgery or injury. Sometimes it’s best for us and our bodies to not do much. One of the mistakes people make sometimes is thinking that they can apply relative rest in situations when absolute rest is needed. We all know at least one person who thinks they don’t need to lay in bed without doing anything. Well, they are actually working against themselves. Recovery can take much longer if proper rest is not taken. Therefore, always make sure to talk to professionals who can tell you which type of rest you need.

Drawbacks of relative rest and absolute rest

Even though both relative rest and absolute rest are good, they do have some drawbacks. When it comes to relative rest, the reduced level of activity sometimes may not be enough to support proper recovery. If a person has experienced a serious injury or surgery, this type of rest will not be beneficial. As we mentioned earlier, it can even slow down the recovery process.

When it comes to absolute rest, its main drawback is that prolonged periods of inactivity can lead to muscle wasting. You could also experience a loss of fitness and decreased bone density. For some people, absolute rest is not good. These are usually elderly people or those with certain medical conditions. If you are in one of those groups but you have experienced something that normally requires absolute rest, it’s best to consult with a professional.

Elderly man exercising with his personal trainer
Make sure you consult your personal trainer about relative rest and absolute rest

What can neglect of one type of rest do?

You might not be aware of what happens if you neglect one type of rest. For example, if you neglect reduced rest after an intense workout or physical activity, this can lead to overtraining, which can cause fatigue, reduced performance, and even injury. It’s important to take it easy and ease the workouts if needed. Do some basic exercises to lose belly fat instead of doing intense ab workouts if you are already tired. On the other hand, engaging in too much relative rest during serious recovery can prolong the process and even cause further injury.

If you don’t take absolute rest after an injury or illness, you could delay the healing process and increase the risk of reinjury or further illness. If you continue to engage in physical activities during absolute rest you can worsen your condition and prolong your recovery.

Understand the pros and cons, and choose the right type of rest

Relative rest and absolute rest are two different approaches to allowing the body to recover. No matter if we are recovering from physical activity, injury, surgery, or illness, some kind of rest needs to take place. While relative rest allows us to still reach some levels of physical activity, absolute rest allows none. Make sure you know which one is right for you and your situation. Also, check what the benefits and drawbacks of each type of rest are. Allow your body to rest and recover before jumping back into action!

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