We all have those days where we would rather watch TV or take a nap than hit up the gym. While hiding behind the newest episode of Scandal or Grey’s Anatomy won’t get you a sympathy vote for skipping the gym, there are a few acceptable reasons for not exercising. Here are eight valid reasons for skipping your workout for a day.
If you are ill
A case of the sniffles and a headache may not throw you off of your fitness regimen, but you may want to think twice about putting on your running shoes if you have a fever, chest congestion, nausea or any other flu-like symptoms. Exercise may be beneficial for cold symptoms, and some experts recommend engaging in moderate exercises if the symptoms are located above the neck. However, if your symptoms suggest more than the common cold, listen to your body and take it easy for a day.
When you’re sleep-deprived
It’s no fun working out in zombie mode, and when your body is going off of a few hours of sleep, your performance during your workout suffers. According to her website, fitness instructor and mogul Cathe Friedrich recommends choosing a rest day over exercise to let your body recover and your stress hormones normalize. She points out that exercising in an exhausted state compromises tissue repair, decreases productivity and increases the risk of illness because of decreased immunity. Aim to get at least six hours of sleep.
If you have an injury
You may want to rethink exercising with a swollen ankle or a pulled muscle. Working out immediately after pulling a muscle can make your injury worse. A mild strain could take up to two weeks to heal, while a serious strain could take several months. If your muscle strain is on the serious side, talk to your physician before jumping back into your fitness routine.
If you can’t recall your last rest day
You’re extra-ambitious and motivated, so you hit the gym every day of the week. You’ll reach your fitness goals faster, right? Wrong. Overexerting yourself can increase your risk of injury as well as burnout. You can also delay your muscle recovery time and slow down your fitness progress and performance. Remember, it’s OK to take a day off to let your body recuperate.
When you need to spend time with your family
Maybe your schedule is very demanding and you realize it’s been days since you’ve had free time for yourself or your loved ones. Instead of going to the gym today, Rick Applewhite, certified personal trainer in Chicago, recommends taking the day off from the gym to spend time with your family. “Exercise is important, but family still comes first,” says Applewhite. “Take the evening off to stay at home and enjoy family time. And then get back to the gym tomorrow.” You can also sit down with your family and map out ways to make exercising a family affair.
When you’re on vacation
Exercising on vacation is important and helps you keep the momentum, but if you’ve been going hard in your career, Applewhite recommends taking the first couple of days off from working out on your vacation.
After you give birth
Though you may want to hit the gym immediately to get back down to your pre-pregnancy size, make sure that you give your body the proper amount of time to heal before working out. The recommended time to wait before exercising is six weeks after giving birth or 12 weeks after a C-section. Consult your doctor before re-starting your fitness regimen.
When you’re racing against the clock
There are days when time just gets away from you, and you realize you still have errands to run, a dinner to cook and your children’s homework to check. If you have less than 20 minutes to spare, Applewhite suggests working out on a different day, when you have more time to allocate to your workout. He points out that although you can have an effective 20-minute workout, you don’t want to rush through your routine because you have dinner waiting on the stove. You don’t need an hourlong workout to be effective, he points out. However, you want your workouts to be productive and not rushed.