16 Times When You Should Skip A Workout

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October 17, 2022

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While we’re all about kicking excuses to the curb and creating a clever workout schedule that works around your busy lifestyle, there are a handful of times when the Sweat Trainers would actually tell you that, no, working out right now isn’t actually a good idea. 

The key to a healthy, sustainable routine is all about making choices that will promote your health and happiness rather than hinder it. Fitness is a lifelong journey and sometimes, missing a workout is the right decision that will allow you to come back stronger with a smile on your face. 

If you’re asking yourself, is it ok to skip a workout day? Here are 15 times when you definitely should.

You’re under a lot of stress

We all know exercise can be a great stress reliever, but when your body’s systems are already under a significant amount of stress, an intense workout isn’t going to help. Pushing yourself can sometimes leave you feeling worse and your risk of injury can also be higher during stressful times. 

According to 2011 research published in the International Journal of Sport and Exercise Physiology, a connection has been found between sports injuries and highly stressful life events, due to the physiological and attentional changes that occur when you’re stressed. 

The results from another 2021 research article investigating the association between stress and injury in 186 dance students found an association between general stress levels and injuries, with injured students reporting higher stress scores than injury-free or non-substantially injured students. 

If you want the feel-good factor of endorphin-boosting exercise without the added stress, try opting for a yoga flow, gentle jog or even a Hot Girl Walk!

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You’re sleep deprived

Similar to stress, working out when you’re fatigued and sleep deprived can increase your risk of injury. A 2021 review published in Current Sports Medicine Reports highlighted how sleep has been found to have wide-ranging effects on sports performance and overall wellbeing. Evidence has connected a continuous lack of sleep with the risk of sports injury and musculoskeletal pain. 

It’s hard to give a workout your best effort when you’re already tired, and pushing through may leave you feeling more fatigued afterwards. Prioritise your rest and come back to your training when your sleep and energy have improved!

You’re sick 

Whether you’ve contracted Covid-19, have any kind of fever, stomach virus, shortness of breath or chesty cough, it’s best to give your body the time it needs to rest and recover. This isn’t just about avoiding spreading germs to other people (although that’s definitely part of it), but about giving your body the best chance to beat the bug as quickly as possible. 

If you have mild symptoms above the neck such as a runny nose and sore throat, some light low-intensity exercise such as walking or gentle yoga is probably ok. If your symptoms are worsening or below the neck such as a body fever, chesty cough and aching muscles, then you should rest and see your healthcare professional if necessary. 

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You’ve just completed a significant physical event

Depending on your lifestyle and interests, this could be a running or cycling race, a fitness competition, a full-day hike, or even a multi-day music festival that had you on your feet for days on end! Take a day or two to rehydrate and allow your body to recover. Stretching or foam rolling could also help to ease any aches!

Your muscles are really sore

If you’re experiencing delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) after a workout, it’s because you have fatigued your muscles and caused tiny tears in the fibres. This is a natural part of strength training and not cause for concern, but it does mean your body needs time to rest and repair. 

Working out with sore muscles can increase your risk of overuse injuries, overtraining and burnout, or compromising your form by activating incorrect muscles or joints in an attempt to avoid feeling the pain. Try going for a walk, cycle or swim instead - walking won’t strain your body but can support recovery by increasing blood flow to your muscles.

You’ve just had a cosmetic treatment like a wax or laser appointment

After cosmetic treatments like laser hair removal or waxing, your skin can be incredibly sensitive and friction, increased blood flow to your skin and sweat can irritate your skin and hair follicles. The general recommendation is to avoid intense exercise for 24 hours following a treatment.

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You’re sunburnt 

According to Mayo Clinic, sunburn affects your body’s ability to cool itself, which increases your risk of heatstroke if your body overheats during your workout

Rest, hydrate, stay in the shade or air-conditioned rooms and if you feel up to exercising, opt for low-intensity movement that won’t make you hot and sweaty.

You’ve done two days of high-intensity workouts in a row

The Sweat Trainers don’t recommend doing back-to-back high-intensity workouts in the first place as it’s best to give yourself at least one day in between to recover, but if you have done this, definitely don’t go for a three-day streak. Have a complete rest day or enjoy some low-intensity movement like walking, yoga or foam rolling to help support your recovery. 

You’re injured

If you’ve got slight muscle aches, light or moderate exercise can help by increasing blood flow to your muscles, but exercising when you’re injured is a whole ‘nother story and will only make it worse. Rest and see your healthcare professional if you think it needs to be checked. 

Completing your workout would mean missing an important occasion

As much as we love the grit and determination behind the “no excuses” mindset, life is meant for living, making memories and spending time with your loved ones. Remember, fitness is supposed to improve your life, not replace it, and doing the things you love are just as important for your overall health and happiness. Have you got friends visiting from out of town, a birthday party, or perhaps a celebration dinner and you can’t find time for your workout? Don’t sweat it.

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You recently had a baby or had surgery

Everyone’s recovery time and return to exercise will look different depending on when your birth or surgery was, the type, and if there were any complications. Be gentle with yourself, rest, follow the advice from your healthcare professional and always wait until you’ve been cleared to slowly start exercising again. 

If you’re looking to rebuild your foundational strength, core stability and posture after having a baby and have been cleared to return to fitness, Kayla Itsines’ Post-Pregnancy program and Kelsey Wells’ PWR Post-Pregnancy program are both available in the Sweat app!

You’re currently pregnant

If you’re expecting and feel up to exercising, that’s great (and congratulations!). In the Sweat app, there are two programs designed with expectant mothers who have been given the okay to exercise in mind - Pregnancy with Kayla and Pregnancy with Kelsey

Pregnancy can be accompanied by symptoms such as morning sickness, nausea, fatigue, reflux and aches, so listen to your body and only move in ways that feel good, provided you have obtained clearance from your healthcare professional. Your body is doing an incredible thing and it’s perfectly okay if you don’t feel up to it!

You’ve got painful period cramps 

If cramps are a symptom you experience during your menstrual cycle, it may be a time to slow down and prioritise self-care and comfort. 

When you’re feeling uncomfortable in your abdomen, your workout isn’t going to be enjoyable and you might activate incorrect muscles in an attempt to avoid engaging the muscles around your core and pelvis which can impair your form. See what works for you in terms of pain reduction and movement, whether it’s complete rest, a heat pack on your abdomen, a walk or some gentle yoga stretches.

You’re on vacation 

Do you love trying new gyms or finding beautiful outdoor spaces to exercise on holiday? Power to you! But if your ideal vacation means resting and taking a break from your usual routine (including your workouts), go for it and don’t feel an ounce of guilt about it. 

Like Chontel Duncan’s family holiday, your vacation might also involve juggling kids and working out simply isn’t a priority. There are plenty of fun ways to keep your body moving on holiday, if you want to, such as exploring on foot, swimming, cycling, kayaking or snowsports. 

You’ve given blood today 

The American Red Cross recommends avoiding heavy lifting or vigorous exercise for at least the rest of the day after donating blood. If you experience dizziness or lightheadedness, their advice is to stop what you’re doing and sit down or lie down until you feel better.

You’ve lost all enjoyment in exercise

There will be days where exercising feels like a chore or takes a lot of willpower, but moving your body shouldn’t feel like a dreadful grind all the time. If you’re spending every minute of your workout wishing it was over or there’s no feel-good reward anymore, it might help to take a break or try a different training style

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Creating healthy habits and leading a lifestyle that helps you to feel your best is what we’re all about at Sweat, and allowing yourself some flexibility is part of that. Some days, skipping a workout might be the best thing for you.

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A more empowered you starts with Sweat, and our editorial team is here to bring you the latest fitness tips, trainer recommendations, wellbeing news, nutritional advice, nourishing recipes and free workouts.

* Disclaimer: This blog post is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. The above information should not be used to diagnose, treat, or prevent any disease or medical condition. Please consult your doctor before making any changes to your diet, sleep methods, daily activity, or fitness routine. Sweat assumes no responsibility for any personal injury or damage sustained by any recommendations, opinions, or advice given in this article.


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