Despite all those popular “fitness inspiration” memes that show up in your social media feeds—think #NoExcuses, #NoDaysOff, #RestLater—the truth is, there are some really good reasons to take a day off and rest every now and again. Whether you’re feeling physically fried or just mentally frazzled, sometimes it’s totally O.K. to stay home. Here is a checklist of five trainer-approved reasons to skip a workout. (You’re welcome.)
You feel under the weather
Listen to your body. If you think you can handle a little activity, go for it. A light sweat session might even energize you. But if you’re running a fever or generally feel like crap, there’s no sense in putting more stress on your body. You’re better off resting and recuperating. (And if you think you might be contagious, you should definitely stay home to spare your fellow gym members.)
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No matter how carefully you try avoid it, if you’re working out regularly, you’re bound to get hurt eventually. Regardless of the injury’s severity, you should always prioritize healing over more exercise. But that doesn’t mean you need to avoid working out altogether. Just make sure you don’t aggravate your ailment. For example, if your shoulder is giving you trouble, focus on your legs or abs until you’ve healed. If the pain persists or an injury gets worse with exercise, stick with one fail-safe strategy: rest!
You were tossing and turning all night, and before you know it, your alarm is blaring. Do you toughen up and hustle to the gym? Or stay in bed and try to log a little more sleep? In this scenario, I’d advise you to do the latter. Sleep should be your top priority. Choosing a groggy workout over getting enough shut-eye could do your body more harm than good. Not only does your snooze time affect the quality of your exercise, but it also impacts your brain function, appetite, mood, and overall physical health. Try to get to bed as early as possible the night before an A.M. workout.
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You’re super sore
If your body is aching from head to toe, you’re probably in need of a recovery day. When you work out (and especially when you strength train) your muscles literally break down—which means you need to allow your body time to repair and replace the damaged muscle fibers. If you don’t, you could actually suffer muscle loss. So take my advice and give yourself a break. Go for a light walk around your neighborhood instead.
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Before you get too excited, your busy schedule is not a “get out of gym free” card. But it may mean you should consider a different approach to exercise. For example, if you’re running short on time, and a trip to the gym is simply out of the question, get your sweat on at home. Tabata is one of the best ways to sneak in a quick (and effective) workout. After all, it only takes four minutes! Start by picking any move you can do at home. My personal favorites: squats, push-ups, burpees, squat jumps, or sit ups. Next, grab a stopwatch or look up an online tabata timer. Start the clock and do 20 seconds of exercise followed by 10 seconds of rest. Repeat these intervals for a total of four minutes. If you have a little more to spare, pick a second move and repeat.
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