Fitness Articles

7 Times It's OK to Skip a Workout

Stop Feeling Guilty When You Need a Break

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Sometimes when we miss a workout, we know full well that we are just making "the dog ate my homework" types of excuses that wouldn't fool anyone—not even you! But then there are the times when we have a valid reason for skipping a workout. Sometimes life really does get in the way. Sometimes you really do have to skip a workout, and don't need the extra guilt for doing so. You shouldn't beat yourself up for missing a day or even a week (or more) of workouts if you have a legitimate reason to opt out. But you should check in with yourself so you know whether it's a valid excuse or whether you should be a little tougher on yourself. To help you tell the difference, we've come up with a list of times you can totally pass on a workout—without feeling an ounce of guilt.

7 Justifiable Reasons to Miss a Workout
1. You just had a baby.
Having a baby is maybe the most valid reason for not working out. It's typically recommended that you wait six weeks after giving birth before you work out and even longer if you've had a C-section. Your body is recovering from a major physical even and not only should you cut yourself some slack, but it can be dangerous to exercise too soon. Postpartum bleeding, called lochia, can continue well past the four-week mark, and overdoing anything can cause bleeding to increase. So heed your doctor's advice and enjoy the baby. Don't rush getting back into fitness until your body feels ready to take it on (and you have your doc's OK). There will be plenty of time to work out once you've recovered!

2. You're injured.
It's not only important to skip your workouts when you're injured, but it's a necessity if you want to feel better! Giving your injury a break is essential to letting it recuperate so you're able to get back on the horse again soon. Putting more strain on an injury is just a recipe to get sidelined for good. Talk to your doctor or physical therapist to find out what activities you can do with your injury. It might be possible to modify exercises so you can still work out, but there might be exercises to avoid, too. Being injured can be a positive in some ways, though. Nothing makes you miss working out more than not being able to do it, and this type of setback can also push you to discover new workouts you enjoy. If you can't run because of a knee injury, you might be able to try Pilates. If you have a stress fracture, you could fall in love with the bike or rowing machine or try a low-impact class.
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About The Author

Erin Whitehead Erin Whitehead
is a health and fitness enthusiast who co-founded the popular website and co-wrote The Fit Bottomed Girls Anti-Diet book (available May 2014). Now busier than ever with two kids, she writes about healthy pregnancy and parenting at

Member Comments

  • Oh how true! We (my family) are all jet-lagged from traveling west and coming back to North Carolina! We woke at noon in NC today and are all STILL tired! I did, however, go for a VERY small walk with my 10 year old daughter just to get in a few steps! NOW off to bed! - 3/16/2016 8:24:25 PM
    My workouts came to a halt after I had a mild heart attack and a mild stroke. I have not had any affects from the latter but my body wants to rest a lot. Two weeks after discharge from the hospital, I am starting to walk for about 5 minutes in the house and go on an errand with my husband. I hope to get into a Rehabilitation program at my local hospital soon. I am tired a lot but gradually improving. I hope to eventually get back to my pre-heart attack workouts. - 3/16/2016 12:42:23 PM
    What about you are tired of the same old routine, and need to live life for awhile? You have other people to attend to, who need you? Can't just think about yourself all the time. - 12/23/2015 4:34:47 AM
  • Your body needs time to rest. Over training is not the norm.. well.. not in Virginia Beach anyway.... But when you are making an effort things are different. The rule of thumb I was taught .. more days on then off. Cut yourself some slack. Personally I work out 5 days a week. As for working out sick....Please don't go to the gym when you have a horrible cold/cough. It might help you but it is certainly not doing those around you any good. - 5/17/2015 11:05:22 AM
  • Alright, I'm at #5, I'll cut myself some slack. *lol* Both the boyfriend and I are congested and coughing, and it's really aggro'd my asthma. Right now a good conversation is making me cough. Today is stretch/meditate/
    hydrate. - 3/27/2015 3:35:01 PM
  • I disagree about not exercising when you have an illness in your lungs. It was only when I began to exercise again, even though I had a cold in my lungs, did the congestion in my lungs start to break up and come out. I only wish I hadn't heeded the advice to be inactive for so long, for four months. Now I am getting better! I feel like I am going to live, and I am making new plans. - 3/25/2015 6:01:27 PM
  • DEEHAM2001
    This is really a great topic and the main thing is you have to listen to your body and it will let you know what is needs. I'm not a good sleeper and had a bad night of no sleep last night usually go home and workout after work, but today I will see how I feel and not feel guilty if the answer is "not tonight I have a headache" - 3/25/2015 10:18:33 AM
  • The medical reason for waiting for healing after surgery applies to me - sinus surgery. It's hard to believe that sinus surgery needs 3- 4 weeks to lay off exercise but it is Dr's orders. My hardest part is start up again after being off pace. I tend to be all or nothing personality so stopping for a while is a major challenge. - 2/12/2015 9:32:49 AM
  • I had a hysterectomy on 12/30 and was on a awesome workout streak. It is very hard to sit it out and wait for my doctor to provide the "all clear". I try to walk and do some arm exercises, but I found that my mood has taken a nosedive. But, I also realize that I have to heal. Therefore, I am making sure that my meal choices are better. - 1/31/2015 12:41:08 PM
  • good guidelines, especially when you have been sleep deprived exercise should be skipped more than likely~ - 11/9/2014 2:01:57 PM
  • This article came at just the right time for me.

    I have been on an exercise streak, and working to do something for at least 10 minutes each day. For weeks, I have exercised almost every day, and some days as much as an hour or more a day.

    Today, I am exhausted. Have been very busy, so not enough sleep. Have exercised a lot in the last few days.

    Spent 4 days celebrating my birthday with friends, being active, not overeating. Home from a concert at 2:30 this morning Have had a few treats, after all you only turn 65 once in your life, LOL, but no compulsive eating, which is a big deal for me

    I have made a conscious decision to not even do my 10 minutes today.

    I am glad I did. I am sure that I will get a good night's sleep tonight, and be ready to get at it again in the morning.

    Bonnie - 9/15/2014 5:11:20 PM
    I am guilty of doing some of these, as in working out when I should have rested. Too much activity with a newborn because I was anxious about all the pregnancy weight? CHECK. DONT DO IT. I wasn't in pain but even with an easy delivery your body still needs to transition and recover!! Lesson learned. Working out with injury? Why yes, that is how I got a stress fracture which set me back months, and could have been avoided with a few weeks rest. Working out should be enjoyable and healthy, not painful and injury causing. - 9/12/2014 9:34:34 AM
  • RG_1993
    That's good to know because I've been feeling guilty about skipping, so it's reassuring. Thank you so much for sharing this article. :) - 9/11/2014 2:21:57 PM
  • I would have to disagree with most of these points. - 6/7/2014 4:27:37 AM
  • How about being just plain worn out. I started a workout program and after three weeks of perfect adherence to my plan, I was starting to have to force myself to go in, until I recognized I was overtraining. I took a day off. When I went back, I went back to my baseline activity. Helped tremendously, and now I am consistently getting my three times per week. Glenn - 5/9/2014 12:24:37 AM

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