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3 times you should absolutely skip your workout according to a PT

We all have times we're not in the mood to exercise, but there are also times when we should actively avoid working out, according to a PT

Melanie Macleod
Wellness Editor
June 8, 2024
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There's no feeling quite like smashing a workout and skipping out of the studio feeling energised and accomplished. But any regular exerciser will know there are also times when you'd rather do anything but work out.

If you're in the second camp today, you might be interested to know that there are times when you genuinely should skip your workout. No, not because you can't be bothered, these are legitimate reasons a personal trainer might want you to stay away from the gym…

When to avoid exercise

Cropped shot of an attractive and athletic young woman looking tired after a workout in the gym© Getty
There are times we should avoid exercise

"Exercising in general is incredibly beneficial," says Fitness First personal trainer James Barr. "It can help us become fitter and healthier, plus it can help with our mental health and overall wellbeing. However, there are certain times where you shouldn’t work out or should look to take things a bit easier…"

1. When you’re tired

"It can be extremely tough to avoid working out when you're tired, especially if exercise is your way to relieve stress after a tough day at work, however, it’s incredibly important to listen to your body and not exercise when you’re extremely tired.

"Working on when you're tired creates an increased risk of injury because fatigue can impair balance and coordination making it harder to perform moves properly.

"If you're tired, you'll likely see reduced performance," James adds. "When you’re tired, your energy levels and muscle strength are diminished, meaning you may feel sluggish during your workout and not be able to perform at your peak performance."

Woman lying asleep on the sofa© Shutterstock
Avoid exercise when you're tired

James cautions that tiredness can lead to poor form, too. "Tiredness can lead to sloppy technique, increasing the risk of injury," he says.

2. When you’re injured

"This is the most important time to rest your body," says James.

Though it can be tempting to try and work through an injury, exercising when injured can lead to delayed recovery could even worsen the injury," James says.

Knowing when it's time to rest is crucial

"In fact, working out when injured could potentially lead to compensation injuries, which is when one part of your body is injured, you subconsciously alter your movement patterns to compensate for the pain or weakness. This compensation can put undue stress on other parts of your body, leading to new injuries.

"Depending on how bad and where the injury is, it may be a good idea to look at incorporating yoga into your fitness regime, especially if you want to stay active with something low intensity.

DISCOVER: Try this PT-approved hack for fitting in a workout - even when you don't have time

"Yoga can improve flexibility, strength, mental wellbeing and improve quality of sleep – all helpful in aiding recovery.

"However, before you decide to get into downward dog, make sure you check with your GP or healthcare professional to ensure you’re safe to do this."

3. On your period

James notes that this does depend on each individual and how they feel during their cycle, but cautions that strenuous or prolonged exercise might not actually be good for the body when you’re on your period.

"An hour of moderate to intense exercise during menstruation can cause exercise-induced inflammation," he explains, adding: "While this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t exercise at all, if you’re feeling fatigued, nauseous or have an increase in pain it’s recommended to take it easier."

Take it easy when you're on your period© Getty
Take it easy when you're on your period

James explains that different stages of your cycle should dictate the workout you choose. "In the week running up to your period, where you’re expected to feel more tired, try low-intensity exercises such as swimming, yoga, strength training or even walking and cycling.

"Taking a step back and doing something less intense is incredibly important because moving your body and keeping active can help relieve some of the symptoms."

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