12 Times You Should Absolutely Skip Your Workout

Updated: Sep. 19, 2018

Sometimes you’re excited to get to the gym, others you have to give yourself a little pep talk to get there. As good as exercise is in most circumstances, there are a dozen times when you’re better off not pushing it. So the next time you’re about to launch into a “Here are all the reasons I need to work out right now” talk with yourself; use this list to decide if it’s smarter to skip it anyway.


You have a fever

If you’re running a fever, stay home. A fever means your body is fending off an illness, and putting your body under stress from a workout will only make it harder to kick. Not to mention, with a fever, your core body temperature is already high and working out will increase it. Here are 5 ways to not be the annoying sick person at the gym.

iStock/Nikki Bidgood

You just completed a major event

If you recently completed a race or fitness competition, give your body time to recover. Active rest and light exercise are all great ways to stay mobile without overdoing it. Try light jogging, yoga, hiking, walking, biking, rollerblading, or any other low-impact, gentle exercise.


You’re injured

If you’re nursing an injury, give your body the rest it needs to heal. In some cases, you can work out, focusing on another area of your body, but you still risk tweaking something, making your injury worse. The best rule of thumb is to focus on mind-body training like yoga or meditation and wait to heal completely. Plus, watch at for the 9 exercise moves that could seriously injure you.


You have the flu

Working out stresses your body, making it harder to fight an illness. Under normal circumstances, this temporary vulnerability is fine, and in fact, helps improve your immune system over time. But, if you’re already sick with the flu or a respiratory cold, training will make it harder for your body to recover and could even making it worse.


You’re so sore you can’t walk

There’s a caveat to this one: moving is good when you’re sore; it helps stretch your muscles and bring them oxygen to repair and grow. A full-fledged workout, however, will not only be painful, but you’ll put too much stress on muscles that desperately need rest. Instead of working out, take a gentle yoga class or stretch at home. Learn the 9 signs you’re working out too much.


You’re chronically sore

If you’re sore for days after you train (72 hours or more), you’re overtraining and not giving your body the rest it needs. In this case, dial it back, avoid the gym and consider how you can restructure your routine to give yourself more time for rest and repair.


You’ll miss something else you really want to do

If the only time you can work out is during a dinner with friends or when you’ll be seeing family from out of town, skip it. Exercise isn’t the only thing that makes you healthy—doing what you love, spending time with friends, and being happy are all part of living a healthy, well-rounded life. Learn the 15 things your gym doesn’t want you to know.


You were already active today

If you took a hike, long bike ride, or yoga class, you’ve likely given your body what it needs in terms of exercise for the day. In this case, don’t guilt yourself into going to the gym; any movement is good movement, you don’t have to be lifting weights or running on a treadmill to build strength and endurance.

iStock/Martin Dimitrov

You’re exhausted

If you’re a little tired, a workout is a great way to get more energy. If you’re exhausted however, it’s best to stay away from the gym. When you’re tired, you’re more likely to make mistakes with your form, which could lead to injury. Not to mention, if you’re exhausted, your body is telling you to rest, so do exactly that. Here are more things you shouldn’t do when tired.


You have a new, consistent pain

If you’ve recently noticed an acute sharp pain anywhere in your body when working out, don’t keep training; instead, head to the doctor to get it checked out. While it may feel like you can push through the pain, you could cause an otherwise avoidable injury or strain, which will keep you from training for much longer. These are the 13 post-workout mistakes that ruin your workout.

iStock/da kuk

You’re dreading your workout

If you’re dreading heading to the gym or doing your usual workout—don’t go. There’s a reason you don’t want to; what is it? Instead of forcing yourself through a workout you don’t want to do, think about what you do want to do instead: yoga? Boxing? Running? There are so many ways to work out; maybe this is a sign that you need to find a new way to challenge your mind and body.


You just had surgery/a baby/a major injury

Even if you’ve been cleared to work out by your doctor, but aren’t feeling up to it, don’t. Your body is still recovering, and knows what it needs. If training isn’t in the cards, don’t push it. Give yourself grace and understanding, and sit this one out. Check out these other exercise moves that work against you.