Missed a Workout? 4 Times It’s OK to Skip the Gym… and 2 Times It’s Not

Article posted in: Fitness

We’ve all had those should I or shouldn’t I? moments. The times when must-do errands, a longer-than-usual commute or crappy weather serve as convenient excuses to skip your regular evening walk or weekly class at the gym. Those are the moments you want to dig deep and motivate.

But then there are those occasions, every so often, when you’ve missed a workout and shouldn’t feel one bit of guilt for it.

Here are four times when it’s smarter to rest, and two when it’s better to move:

1. Skip if you’re sleep deprived.

It’s true that exercise can help you feel less tired and more alert. It’s also true that even a little physical activity on most days may help you rest better. But, getting enough sleep is also an important part of your fitness routine. Research from Northwestern University explains that sleeping at least seven hours at night can promote longer, harder workouts the next day. Skimp too much on sleep and you’ll have less energy during exercise, paired with a higher risk of injury. Plus, when you don’t get enough ZZZs, it can mess with your hunger and satiety hormones, totally interfering with your weight loss. Aim for seven to nine hours of sleep per night.

2. Skip when you’re injured.

That’s less of a suggestion, more of a must, if you want your body to heal properly and reduce your risk of further injury. Pounding the pavement too soon after spraining your ankle, for example, might lead to chronic pain, instability or arthritis in that joint. Playing through the pain of tennis elbow, a form of tendinitis, can up your risk of rupturing the tendon, which is a much more serious condition. Let an injury heal, and if it still hurts after a few days of rest, talk to your doctor. He may be able to suggest other activities to keep you active, without stressing your injury.

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3. Skip if you’re really (really) sore.

Feeling a little achy after exercise is normal. But, if you’re experiencing extreme muscle or joint pain a day or so after a workout, it could be a sign of a condition called DOMS, or delayed onset muscle soreness. Experts from the American College of Sports Medicine believe the pain may stem from tiny tears in muscle fibers when you try a new activity, or push too hard through a workout. If symptoms make it too tough to exercise, rest for a few days until the pain subsides.

4. Skip when you’ve just had a baby.

And don’t start up again until you feel ready! If you’ve had a cesarean section or experienced other complications, ask your doctor before you begin exercising again. When you’re ready, walking is a great way to get back in shape. If you’ve had a healthy pregnancy and normal vaginal delivery, it may be safe to work out a few days after giving birth, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, but better safe than sorry with this one.

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5. Don’t skip if you have a cold.

Missed a workout for s sniffle? This excuse is a bit of a stretch. Mild to moderate exercise can actually help you feel better by temporarily relieving congestion. Instead of going for a longer run, however, perhaps take a shorter walk. Obviously, if you have a fever, chest congestion, a hacking cough or upset stomach, that’s a little bit different. Then, hit the couch and rest until you feel better.

6. Don’t skip when you’re on your period.

Even if that time of the month feels less than ideal, for many women, regular aerobic exercise can reduce menstrual symptoms and improve your mood. If you’ve missed a workout for this reason, you could be doing yourself a disservice. Good options include going for a brisk walk, riding your bike or swimming.

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