When to Take a Break From Exercise

It’s okay. Sometimes life truly does get in the way.  Sometimes we need a little time off from our usual exercise routine. When you do take a break, make sure it doesn’t turn into a long hiatus, though.  Here are some ideas for keeping it realistic and not back sliding into couch potato status.

Nagging Injury. They call it tennis elbow for a reason!  Sore backs, shin splits, and plantar fasciitis all happen from repetitive use.  Sometimes we need a break from that activity in order for our body to heal.  Try a week of full rest and then try to phase in other activities while you finish your recovery.  Checking in with a doctor or a physical therapist can help a lot here.

Sudden Injury. Maybe it’s an injury that occurs while you’re playing a sport, or something completely unrelated like a fall or a car accident.  Whatever the cause, sudden injuries usually need medical attention.  Talk to your doctor about how to phase fitness back in and listen to her advice!  I’m always a fan of asking for a physical therapy referral here; they can have you training smart, and you can actually come back stronger then when you started.

Raging Cold/Flu. Can you work out with a cold?  Yes, but if your body is fighting off a bad bug, why not let all of your resources go towards getting healthy and just take a day or two off to rest.  When it comes to the flu, don’t even bother; rest, drink liquids, and focus on feeling better.  For the first workout or two back from a cold or flu, think about working at 60 to 80% of your usual capacity and work back up to your full, strenuous workouts over a week or so’s time.

Family Emergency. A sudden serious illness in your family, a death in your family, or some other emergency can pull you from your usual routine.  Workouts can be crucial to help relieve stress and keep perspective, BUT if your family needs you, you have to be there.  Put the workout to the side during the crisis and try to sneak in a few minutes here or there.  Maybe some crunches in the morning before you head out or a walk around the neighborhood with a family member to destress and move a little.  As the crisis abates, you’ll find more pockets of time and you’ll be able to pick right back up again.

Huge, Looming Work Deadlines. Your usual class at the gym is happening tonight, but you’re still toiling at your desk.  The proposal absolutely, positively must be finished, and you’ll be lucky if you see your family this week, nevermind the gym.  Hey, it happens.  Maybe you can sneak in an early morning workout or take a walk at lunch instead of your usual routine.  Focus on eating healthfully to keep your energy up and head straight back to your usual workout as soon as the deadline passes and the job is complete.

Vacation! I’m one of those crazy people who works out more during vacation.  I usually wind up a pound or two lighter when I get back home.  I know, that’s not normal!  If you’re on a great vacation and you just want to kick back and relax, go for it!  We all need to recharge in our own way, and if skipping workouts entirely for a week or two is what you need to do, enjoy.  But while you’re on vacation, there are tons of ways to sneak in a little fitness.  Walking is the easiest as you bop around to different sites, but you might want to scout out a local yoga studio or gym and take a class or two.  Consider a night out dancing as a fun way to blow off some steam and some calories; just watch the booze, you don’t need to have a six pack every night to enjoy a week away.

There are a lot of reasons to take a break from working out.  The key is to remember it’s temporary. See if there are ways you can adapt your workouts and always get back to your routine as soon as it makes sense.  When was the last time you took an exercise break?