I've skipped my workout plenty of times, sometimes for no real reason. (Well, unless you count lounging on the couch with a glass of wine as a legitimate reason, which I don't.)
Of course, skipping a workout doesn't do me any favors when it comes to my fitness goals. And I know it's important to stick to a regular exercise routine to stay healthy. But there are certain times when skipping a workout shouldn't make you feel guilty. (I'd even consider them good reasons!)
Here are five times it's okay to cut yourself some slack and skip your workout.
If you're injured, it's important to take some time off or adjust your regular workouts if you want to get better. If you don't give your injury proper time to heal and recover, you could put more strain on it and get sidelined for even a longer amount of time. Talk to your doctor about what activities you can do with your injury. Modifying exercises might make it possible for you to continue to work out, but it's especially important to know which exercises to avoid. Keep in mind, most injuries will get better with proper care, so don't get discouraged by this setback. On a positive note, an injury might help you discover some new ways to exercise. For instance, if your knee is bothering you, you might be able to try a low-impact workout like yoga or Pilates, and, hey, it's always fun to try something new, right?
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You're fighting off an illness
Are you sniffling, sneezing, and coughing? Not sure if you should exercise or not? Use the "neck rule" to decide. If your symptoms are all located above your neck (stuffy nose, scratchy throat, headache), you likely have a head cold and it's fine to exercise. However, if you have a fever, congestion in your chest and lungs, or feel achy, it might be a sign of flu, bronchitis, or another more serious ailment, so you should rest up and certainly skip your workout to rest and recover. (Exercising with a fever will make you more vulnerable to dehydration, among other ill effects.) When you're really not feeling well, it's more than okay to spend a few days on the couch instead of at the gym, so your body can focus on fighting off illness. And, of course, the last thing you want to do is spread germs to others or pick up something else at the gym !
You just completed an endurance event
Just ran a marathon? Competed in a two-day CrossFit competition? Finished a Tough Mudder in one piece? Congrats! What an accomplishment to be proud of! You might still be high on endorphins from your recent fitness achievement, but a rest day (or two) is likely much-needed to give your body time to recuperate. Some athletes feel better when they engage in active recovery, such as light walking, stretching, or foam rolling, which can help alleviate soreness, but it's probably best to give your body some time off to help you recovery properly.
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You haven't slept well all week
If you're feeling just a little bit tired after a rough night of sleep, a workout might actually give you an energy boost, but if you haven't slept well in days (or maybe you're jet-lagged), it's okay to choose sleep over hitting the gym-- and this decision will benefit you in the long run. Research shows that lack of sleep can increase your appetite for high-calorie dense food, which can make it more difficult to maintain your weight. Even though heart-pumping cardio will burn calories, you're better off sleeping in and saving your workout for when you're feeling more rested. Plus, if you're really exhausted, you're not going to get a great workout anyway, and there's always the possibility of injury if your mind and body aren't in top shape.
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Your [insert reoccurring injury] is acting up
Similar to exercising with an injury, working out when a reoccurring injury is acting up is not good. Even a slight twinge could mean something more serious, so instead of exercising through pain and letting your old injury get worse, take a break before things get too serious. Once an old injury rears its nasty head, it often takes a considerable amount of time to heal, which, of course, will keep you from the exercising for an even longer amount of time. Get back to your regular exercise routine faster by nipping it in the bud with a rest day.
Read Tina’s daily food and fitness blog, Carrots ‘N’ Cake.