Take a break: 7 good reasons to skip your workout

Regular workouts are good for our mind and soul. While sticking to a routine is ideal, there are times it’s ok, even recommended, to take an exercise break.

Sure, there are loads of benefits to making exercise part of your regular routine, but key to making your body stronger and fitter is knowing when to take an exercise break, according to experts. 

So, if you’ve been pounding the pavement or logging long hours at the gym, here’s when it might be a good time to take a break.

You’re sick

Got a stuffy nose, a slightly sore throat or a headache? 

But Australian Fitness Association training manager Jess Robb advises taking a day off even if you’re feeling a little unwell. 

“Your body will need the rest to get over the illness, and trying to exercise while sick will just prolong your recovery time,” Jess says. 

You haven’t recovered from exercise

Feeling the effects of yesterday’s workout is a sign your body needs more time to recover, according to Jess.

“Obviously, if you’re sore from previous sessions, it’s going to impact your ability to maintain the intensity in your next session,” Jess says.

“This limits your range of motion with other exercises, particularly if we’re talking about resistance training, and you’re better off having a rest day, or at least training different muscle groups.”

You’re on your period

Menstrual cycles don’t necessarily impact a woman’s ability to workout. 

Still, it’s a time when many women may want to take an exercise break, Mark Bunn, author of Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health, says.

“According to Ayurvedic medicine, the body’s energy flow is designed to move down to the reproductive organs; more intensive exercise or working out tends to draw that vital energy up and away from what the body is primarily wanting to do.”

Mark adds that, particularly on the first day of the cycle, women should opt for lighter exercise like walking or gentle yoga to help with symptoms like cramps. 

Your body doesn’t feel right

Mark says one of the most important things to do is to listen to our bodies.

“The body will always tell us whether a workout is appropriate or what intensity is appropriate,” he says.
For example, if you find you’ve gone for a run and your body feels sluggish or heavy, it can be a sign you need an exercise break, he explains.

“People with wearable technology can check their heart rate variability or waking heart rate to help assess exercise suitability – for example, if one’s waking heart rate is five to 10 beats above average, it is usually a sign that something is going on inside your body, and more rest is best.”

You have a niggling injury

It’s common for people to ignore pain, but this can be a big mistake, especially when it comes to sore joints.

“Injuries from repetitive exercises can turn quite bad, so if your wrists or elbows start hurting, you need to take time off, or at least change your routine, to let these areas of your body rest,” Jess says.

You’re sleep deprived

Jess says exercise can give people an energy boost, but if you’re chronically sleep deprived, you’re not doing yourself any favours by working out.  

If you need to rely on caffeine every day or pre-workout to actually get into the gym, you’re going into exercise already under pressure, she explains. 

Being chronically tired will wear down your immune system and can increase the risk of injury, so opting for the occasional sleep-in might be more beneficial, she says.

You’re on holiday

Many of us dream of having the time and energy to work out while we’re on vacation yet in reality, being on holiday is a valuable opportunity to rest and recharge which shouldn’t be overlooked, according to Mark. 

“Everybody is different and has different circumstances, but it’s ok to reduce your workout to a daily stroll during this time,” Mark says.