Fitness Articles

7 Times It's OK to Skip a Workout

Stop Feeling Guilty When You Need a Break

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

  • 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
  • 8. If you have not eaten enough! I used to have to really watch that and if I did not eat enough I could not workout. This is a HUGE thing to be mindful of. My body started eating itself and it is a real problem nobody wants to or needs to face. - 3/22/2014 6:09:07 PM
  • Just had knee surgery about a week ago, so my exercise is a little lacking. But it is very important to get up and move around, plus I do exercises three times a day but nothing you can claim as calorie reducing. If your really sick or injured just walking to the bathroom is exercise enough. You can always ask the doctor what he thinks I did and I was surprised when he said I couldn't walk outside but a treadmill or a gym would be fine and like he told me just don't go nuts. - 2/17/2014 8:40:39 AM
  • Chances are if your as busy as what was posted in the article you probably walked enough to not work out for the day. - 2/16/2014 5:12:04 PM
  • Thanks for sharing. - 11/24/2013 6:14:30 AM
  • If there is a zombie apocalypse and the gym is full of zombies that would be another good reason. - 11/21/2013 2:00:10 PM
  • I always skip one or sometimes even 2 days a week. If my muscles get a rest to repair themselves, I come back stronger. I also skip running or any other exercise for 2 days before a race - maybe an easy walk, stretching & flexibility OK - major effort - no. - 11/21/2013 8:21:10 AM
  • the only times i skip a workout is when my back is acting up to the point where i cant get out of bed, or if i havent slept. im an insomniac so there are times when my body says no to sleep and i dont sleep all night or i dont sleep for a few nights. last week i didnt sleep for two nights straight and nothing could knock me out so i skipped the gym. last time i tried to work out after i hadnt slept for a night i passed out on the treadmill and woke up with a bunch of people over me. i wasnt hurt since i wasnt going fast or anything but it scared everyone including me. i have a potassium issue and with the lack of sleep and working out my doctor thinks my potassium dropped too far and thats why i passed out. - 11/21/2013 1:03:39 AM

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