Image by Javier Díez / Stocksy

A person’s relationship to exercise can fluctuate: Some days mustering up the motivation to get moving can be a challenge, while other times, your stamina is comparable to the Energizer Bunny’s.

I fully support working toward new fitness goals, but adopting a frantic must must-work-out-every-daymindset can be dangerous. In fact, giving your mind and your body time to rest and recover will actually support, not derail, your goals.

Now, that doesn’t mean parking yourself on the couch during every rest day. Instead, try adopting active rest days, where you’re not training or working out intensely, but you’re still getting in some light movement. Think walking, stretching, or doing a short, gentle yoga session.

Rest days should be spent decompressing and prioritizing self-care by getting extra sleep, keeping your body hydrated, eating nourishing meals, and just unwinding.

Breaking out of the mindset that working out every day is the “right” way to exercise can take time. But active rest days are crucial for meeting your fitness goals and for staying safe and healthy overall. Let me share four reasons why:

1. They help you get stronger.

When you work out, whether you’re lifting weights, running, or doing a Pilates class, you create microscopic tears in your muscles. It’s these tears that cause your muscles to ache after a particularly intense training session.

Rest days allow the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues. As your body repairs these tears, your muscles get stronger, which, over time, enables you to perform the same workout with less effort. ADVERTISEMENT

2. They reduce the chance of injuries.

Our bodies can only handle so much physiological stress. When we put too much strain on them, it can lead to overuse injuries (i.e., stress fractures, muscle strains, and joint pain). The time spent recovering from an injury like that just equals more time spent on the sidelines.

To stay strong and healthy, it’s in your best interest to take at least one day per week to rest.

3. They can support your mental health and motivation.

From a psychological standpoint, taking a rest day can help recharge your mind, prevent burnout, and bolster your hunger for exercise. Working out can increase endorphins and energy levels, but when we’re not allowing our bodies time to rest, it takes the fun right out of it.

If working out starts to feel like a burden or a chore, that’s a sure sign you’re not giving yourself enough rest days. If this is the case, take a couple of days off. Soon enough, you’ll start to crave movement again.

4. They can help you sleep better.

Sleep is vital for all humans, and when you work out too hard and too consistently, your sleep patterns can start to get a little wonky. You may feel completely worn out yet struggle to fall asleep or wake up several times throughout the night.

This happens because exercising increases your body’s production of cortisol, and if you don’t allow adequate rest time, your stress hormones will stay heightened. Taking a day or two to rest can help get your sleep back on track.

Bottom line.

If you’re feeling worn out, experiencing any kind of pain, or are struggling to walk up the stairs because you’re sore, it’s time for a rest day. Even if you’re not experiencing any of those effects, I recommend dedicating one or two days per week to active rest. Just listen to your body—you know it best.

Rest days are not a sign of laziness; they’re a necessary part of a workout schedule, and they will help you crush your goals in a safer, healthier, and more sustainable manner. It’s important to give yourself unapologetic permission to rest and to release any guilt you may have about taking it easy.



Experts say side effects are actually a good thing after the vaccine, so what if you feel fine?

I started preparing for my second dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine the day before I was set to get it. I got a full workout in, I made sure we had some Tylenol on hand, I bought chicken noodle soup and saltine crackers and ginger ale—all in an effort to make myself as comfortable as possible for any impending side effects from the vaccine.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, all three of the vaccines authorized for emergency use by the FDA—Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson—can cause any combination of the following symptoms:

  • Pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site
  • Fatigue or tiredness
  • Headache
  • Muscle pain
  • Fever and chills
  • Nausea

As a 32-year-old woman, the deck felt stacked against me even more: Research from the CDC published in February found that, of people who reported vaccine side effects, 79.1% were women—even though 61.2% of study participants vaccinated were women. And other data shows that young people experienced more local and systemic (whole body) side effects than those who are older. Data from all vaccine trials, published on the CDC’s website, show that people ages 18 to 55 (or 59 or 64, depending on the specific vaccine) experienced local or systemic side effects more often than those over that age limit.

The tweets and ‘grams didn’t help either: It seemed everyone felt like they’d been hit by a train the day after their shot. I thought all the evidence was there—I completely expected to feel like garbage the day after my second dose, and I just had to be OK with that.

Except…I felt fine. No symptoms a few hours after the vaccine when I went to bed. No symptoms when I woke up at 3 a.m., a full 12 hours after my shot. No symptoms when I woke up the next morning.

Obviously, no one wants these side effects, but it felt strange that I didn’t even feel a tinge of a headache or an urgent need for a nap. My mind circled back to those stories on COVID-19 vaccine side effects and how experts have told us that experiencing side effects can be a good sign that your body is building protection against the virus. “The bigger your body’s immune response, the more likely you’re going to feel like you have a flu-like illness,” Kathleen Mullane, DO, PharmD, professor of medicine and director of infectious disease clinical trials at the University of Chicago, previously told Health.

So if I didn’t feel any side effects from either of my COVID-19 vaccines, should I be worried that my body didn’t mount enough of a response? Not really, according to Amesh A. Adalja, MD, senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security. “While it’s true that vaccine side effects are often attributed to the vaccine ‘taking’ or prompting a reaction, if they are not experienced, it doesn’t mean one is not sufficiently protected by the vaccine,” he tells Health. “Each person’s immune system has some idiosyncrasies that could be at play.”

“Everyone is different,” adds Richard Watkins, MD, infectious disease physician and professor of internal medicine at the Northeast Ohio Medical University. “So just because you have no symptoms after the vaccine doesn’t mean there is a problem,” he tells Health.

Though it’s often overlooked, the evidence suggests this too. “In all of the vaccine studies, at least 20% of people felt nothing post-vaccination and most side effects were fairly insignificant, such as injection site pain,” Lewis S. Nelson, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, and director of the Division of Medical Toxicology at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, tells Health.

That goes for both clinical trials and real world situations (cough, me, cough). In the Pfizer vaccine trials, 77.4% of people reported at least one systemic reaction—that means nearly 1 out of every 4 patients didn’t experience those side effects at all. Slightly more people felt systemic reactions after a second Moderna shot—81.9%—but that still means about 1 out of every 5 patients felt fine. The rates for Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine were even better: Though reactions were broken up by age groups, only 45.3% of people over 60 years old felt any systemic side effects, while 61.5% of people ages 18 to 59 did.

And that’s from the same data that found those vaccines to be effective at preventing not only severe disease in clinical trials, but also hospitalization and death from COVID-19.

It’s good news for those of us who were anxious about not feeling like crap after the vaccine—even if we don’t necessarily know why these differences in reactions happen. “Every person reacts differently to the vaccine, just like they do when exposed to COVID, and the response is somewhat unpredictable in any individual,” says Dr. Nelson. And just because someone has a strong response to the vaccine doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve acquired more protection—it just means they had more of an inflammatory response as their bodies crafted protective immunity, William Moss, MD, executive director of the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, tells Health. “People who don’t have any side effects are just as likely to be protected as people who have severe side effects,” he says.

The bottom line here: If you didn’t feel any side effects after your COVID-19 vaccine, it’s not something to worry about—you still have the same protection as someone who had to stay in bed the day after their jab.


Johnson & Johnson will allocate 86 percent fewer doses across the United States next week than are currently being allocated, according to C.D.C. data. Around 15 million doses at a Baltimore factory had been contaminated, delaying the plant’s authorization.

A White House official warned that Johnson & Johnson Covid vaccines will be scarce until a troubled plant gains regulatory approval.

Johnson & Johnson vaccines were given at a community college in Los Angeles on Wednesday.
Johnson & Johnson vaccines were given at a community college in Los Angeles on Wednesday.Credit…Richard Vogel/Associated Press

Supplies of Johnson & Johnson’s one-dose coronavirus vaccine will be extremely limited until federal regulators approve production at a Baltimore manufacturing plant with a pattern of quality-control lapses, the White House’s pandemic response coordinator said on Friday.

With allocations of the company’s vaccine set to plunge by 86 percent next week, governors across the country warned that the loss of supplies they had been counting on would set back their vaccination drives.

Federal officials said Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech, the other two federally authorized vaccine manufacturers, could make up some of the shortfall. They also pointed out that some states were not currently using all the vaccine allocated to them.

But increases from Moderna and Pfizer will not make up for the plunge in Johnson & Johnson supply. California will receive 400,000 fewer overall doses next week than this week, a drop of 15 percent, even with slight increases from Pfizer and Moderna. That will be followed by another 5 percent decrease the next week, state officials said on Friday. Officials in a broad band of states said the sudden drop in Johnson & Johnson supply would significantly slow inoculation efforts.

“The last thing we wanted to hear about was we’re getting less vaccines,” Gov. Larry Hogan of Maryland, a Republican, told reporters Friday. “We were hoping to ramp up as they’ve been promising.”

In a statement, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York, a Democrat, said, “We will not be able to get as many shots into New Yorkers’ arms as we would like.” He added, “As has been the case since the beginning of our vaccination effort, the X factor is supply, supply, supply.”

Some state health officials had hoped to use Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot, easily stored vaccine to target college students and other transient groups. Others were offering it at mass vaccination sites or directing it to rural areas.

Instead, shipment of doses of Johnson & Johnson next week will drop severely in states: California will fall from 572,700 to 67,600 doses, Texas from 392,100 to 46,300, Florida from 313,200 to 37,000 and Virginia from 253,400 to 27,900.

In Virginia, which will broaden vaccine eligibility to its entire adult population in nine days, the effect will be “huge,” Dr. Danny Avula, the state vaccine coordinator, said. He said that officials would have to warn people that even though they would be eligible to sign up for shots, appointments could be hard to come by.

Johnson & Johnson was a latecomer to winning federal authorization for emergency use, after Pfizer and Moderna. But as recently as late February, federal officials were projecting weekly deliveries of more than four million doses of the company’s vaccine in April, a significant increase to the nation’s vaccine stock. Only a quarter of those doses, at best, are now expected this month — all from the Netherlands — while federal regulators comb through the Baltimore factory that was supposed to take over for the Dutch plants.

The falloff comes as new, more contagious variants of the coronavirus are sending infection rates soaring in some parts of the country. In Michigan, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, said on Friday that she had urged Mr. Biden to surge vaccines into her state, where an outbreak, the worst in the nation, has filled hospitals and forced some schools to close.

But the White House is reluctant to change the allocation formula for states, which doles out doses equally based on population. Jeff Zients, the White House coronavirus coordinator, said on Friday that the administration did not plan to shift additional vaccine doses to hard-hit states like Michigan.

“At this point that’s not being deployed, but I am not giving up,” Ms. Whitmer said, describing a call Thursday evening with the president. “Today it’s Michigan and the Midwest. Tomorrow it could be another section of our country.”

The drop-off in Johnson & Johnson doses is directly tied to quality-control issues at the 112,000-square foot plant in southeast Baltimore, run by Emergent BioSolutions, a subcontractor to Johnson & Johnson. Johnson & Johnson discovered last month that Emergent workers had contaminated a batch of vaccine and was forced to discard the equivalent of 13 million to 15 million doses.


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