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Totally Legit Reasons For Not Going to the Gym

Sometimes it feels like in order to be our best healthy selves we have to show up and work out every damn day, no matter what. No excuses, right? Well, maybe not! Despite the fact that most fitness-related headlines focus on why we should just suck it up and hit the gym, there are times when it’s simply not the right move. (Yes, you read that right.) Here, some totally legit reasons for not going to the gym, plus a few that are lazy.

“I’m tired”

You wake up for your early morning sweat session and feel too exhausted to move.

What to do
This one comes down to an honest self-evaluation about whether the body is truly fatigued or if the warm bed just seems more appealing in that moment. Celebrity trainer and president of Think Fitness Studios Brent Bishop says, “Sometimes feelings of exhaustion are masked by lack of motivation, which really comes down to a lack of inspiration.” If this is the case, he says it’s a good time to re-evaluate and re-invigorate your fitness plan. “You need to re-evaluate your goals and reasons for exercising and ensure that they are meaningful and workouts are interest-driven. Maybe it’s a good time to partner up with your workouts or try and new class to spark up some new inspiration.” On the other hand, sleep is of equal importance to exercise and less than seven hours is not enough for the body to function optimally. Toronto-based family practitioner Dr. Christine Yurkowski claims, “If you’ve been up all night, better to skip the gym and catch up on ZZZs. On no sleep, you’re less coordinated and so is your brain, which puts you at higher risk for injury. Early morning workouts should be motivating and effective; they should not add more physical and mental stress.”

“I’m sick”

You’re feeling like you’re coming down with a cold and would rather be watching Netflix and eating chicken soup than be anywhere near an elliptical machine.

What to do
Sorry guys, Netflix can wait. According to both experts, a mild cold is not enough to give you a free pass. “If you have a basic cold, you’re generally still fine to work out at a moderate intensity,” says Bishop. To help you decide, there are a couple guidelines to follow. “The ‘neck rule’ has been widely described as a rule of thumb when determining when to exercise,” says Yurkowski. “If your symptoms are above the neck—sneezing, runny nose, congestion, mild sore throat—then it should be OK to do mild to moderate levels of activity.” However, both the trainer and the doc agree that if the sickness is more flu-like—fever, aches and chest cough—it’s best to stay home and get well. Also, don’t be that person who contaminates everyone else. If you’re sneezing and sniffling, it’s best to keep your workout at home.

“I’m stressed”

You’re under deadline at work, forgot to call your mom back, haven’t washed your hair in weeks and have nothing in the fridge but ketchup.

What to do
Stop reading this article and GO TO THE GYM! Yep, all the things we’ve been told about the stress-relieving, mood-boosting, depression-fighting benefits of exercise are true. “When you are stressed and rushing around, make time for your workouts—even if they are only 20 to 30 minutes,” says Bishop. Yurkowski agrees that even though it’s one more thing to add to that looming to-do list, getting a workout in is super important. “Physical activity might be one of the best ways to deal with stress. It can be difficult to pack more into an already busy schedule, but even a little bit can go a long way in stress management. If all you can carve out is a quick walk on your lunch break, then do what you can.”

“I’m sore”

You hit leg day hard and are feeling it. You need extra time to walk places and have a really difficult time sitting down on the toilet.

What to do
Again, intuition is important here. If you’re a little sore, getting the body moving and the blood flowing could be the best thing to alleviate mild stiffness—followed by a lot of stretching, of course. However, if you’re feeling extremely stiff and the muscles are overly fatigued, pushing through could set you back. “If your muscles are still sore from the previous workout, best to skip out that day and recover. When we rest, our bodies are allowed to recover and real progress is made,” explains Yurkowski, adding that, “Overdoing it can lead to decreased performance, lower immunity, sleep disturbance, higher risk of injuries and more.”

“I’m injured”

You’re limping, cringing, cursing, bracing or babying some part of the body, thanks to an acute or overuse injury.

What to do
“Generally speaking, if an injury is acute [occurred recently and exhibits visible swelling and associated pain] then you don’t want to push through it,” says Bishop. “I do recommend, however, to keep moving in a less intense pain-free range of motion to assist with circulation and recovery of a strained joint, for example.” Yurkowski agrees that there are lots of ways to modify a workout to avoid the affected area. “For instance, if you’re recovering from a shoulder injury, skip exercises that aggravate it and work on a different area of the body.” You could focus on more cardio and leg strengthening moves. Bottom line: If you’re hurting and really can’t imagine getting to the gym (say, you threw out your back), don’t feel guilty. Also don’t hesitate to get an expert opinion from a physiotherapist, chiropractor or other medical professional. The sooner you heal, the sooner you’ll get back on track.