I’m an advocate for pushing through a lot of stuff to get a workout done. We’re all busy. We’re all tired. We’re all stressed. We’re all unmotivated sometimes. Especially at this time of year. My usual response to that is “suck it up”, even if I don’t say it out loud. Exercise (even a little bit), healthy food and knowing you’re setting a good example for the people around you will make you feel better. I promise.
That being said, there are definite times when skipping the workout is better for you than forcing it.
1. Like if you’re sick. If you’re running a fever or fighting an infection then give your body the rest it needs. If you’re at the beginning or end of a simple head cold, you can do some light exercise but still take it easy. Being sick means your body is rundown and it needs rest. If you exercise for general health and fitness, there’s no reason to push it. If you’re training for a specific event, then use your own judgement but again, if you’re sick, your body needs rest. Not more stress. Even good stress.
2. If you’re injured. Generally speaking, injuries require you to stop or at least modify your usual routine. It depends on your injury, of course, but if you feel pain or if you have to alter your good form then you need to consider skipping your workout. If the injury is serious enough then please see a doctor and follow their advice.
3. If you just finished a big event. Maybe you ran a marathon. Or did a CrossFit event or obstacle course race. Take a few days off. You earned it. There’s nothing wrong with active rest like yoga or walking but its absolutely ok to veg out on the couch for a couple of days too. Stretching and foam rolling sore, tight muscles can also make you feel better without overtaxing your body.
4. If you’re chronically sore. If you’re sore or achy all the time with regard exercise then you may be overtraining. You need a few days rest. On the other hand, if you’re sore and achy for days because you only exercise once every two weeks…more exercise is the answer. Trust me!
5. If you are absolutely, completely exhausted. This is a tricky one. Many times we convince ourselves that we’re too tired to workout and lounging in the recliner with a bag of chips sounds like a better option. A light workout can perk you up when you’re tired. However, if you are truly worn down, then you need to skip the workout. Being that tired will lead to poor form which could lead to injury.
We all have rough days when we’re busy, tired or unmotivated. Sometimes all three at once! I get it and its easy to talk yourself out of a workout but more often than not, you really will feel better by doing something. If you’re contemplating a workout, pause and take an assessment of your situation. If any of the above apply then consider skipping a day or two.