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Six Reasons to Skip a Workout

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Sometimes I just don't feel like working out. I'm busy, I'm tired, I'm stressed or I just don't feel quite right. They’re all good excuses, but most of the time nothing more than that — feelings that I can use to justify skipping a day.

The problem happens when one day turns into two, then a week, a month or if I were to just stop exercising at all. The initial arguments I made may seem logical, but are they legitimate? Here are six honest-to-goodness times when it's OK to skip a workout.

After an injury. When you pull something, break something or hurt yourself, it's important to give your body time to heal. More stress on an injury can make it worse. Schedule an appointment with a physician and find out what you should be doing. Your doctor may make suggestions on how to alter your workouts, exercises to avoid or suggest that you see a physical therapist.

The key is diligent follow-through. Follow the prescribed treatment, do any recommended physical therapy, get plenty of rest and continue to follow a healthy diet. People with healthy habits tend to heal quicker, which will allow you to get back to the gym sooner. In the meantime, trying different exercises may help you discover new things you enjoy.

After surgery. Avoiding exercise immediately after a major surgery is pretty obvious, but skipping a couple workouts after minor surgery may be a good idea as well. Your body is working overtime to heal itself; it doesn't need you putting on more stress. Ask your doctor when it would be appropriate to start back.

When you have an illness below the neck. Above the neck illness like sore throat or a runny nose are usually safe to work through. Below the neck problems like an upset stomach or full body aches generally mean you should save your strength to get better. You know your body better than anyone, so listen to what it's telling you.

Remember if you're feeling sick, do things that won't pass on any illness to fellow gym goers. Wash your hands before a workout, sanitize frequently, if you sneeze, do it in the crook of your arm. Consider a home workout or exercising outside to avoid close contact with others.

After major physical exertion. If you just finished a triathlon, ran a marathon, or competed in a tough mudder, significant events like that can push your body to the edge. The day after it's good to try some foam rolling or take a walk to relieve any soreness, but skip the regular workout for a day or two to give your body time to recover.

Times when you're truly sleep deprived. I don't mean a little tired in the morning. When that happens, exercise can actually wake you up and give a boost to your day. I mean if you stayed up all night, are dealing with jet lag or haven't had more than four or five hours sleep several nights in a row. If you're nodding off doing everyday things like sitting at a computer, reading a book or driving a car, you need to get some shut-eye. Go to bed early and remove distractions to get some deep and restful sleep. When you're fully rested you can get back to exercising.

For women, after childbirth it can actually be dangerous to work out too soon. Most doctors recommend waiting six weeks after birth - longer if you had a C-section. If you're anxious about losing the weight, get your doctor's clearance and start by attending postnatal fitness classes. If they aren't available where you live, gentle walking, kegel exercises and light stretching can ease you back into a regular program. Avoid sit-ups or strenuous aerobic activities the first few weeks because those can cause a strain on your pelvic floor.

It's OK to miss a workout once in awhile. Just make sure you have a good reason.

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2/9/2014