This Is How to Know if You Need to Skip a Workout

This Is How to Know if You Need to Skip a Workout Lifesum

Don’t force it, feel it.

I missed two workouts last week. It sucked a lot, because I’m trying to get into the best shape of my life (and then maintain it forever), and missing two whole workouts won’t really help with that.


I’m okay with it. Last week, on Monday night I suddenly noticed a pretty painful headache. I tend to only get headaches when I’m tired, so I figured a solid sleep would put it to bed (get it?). By the time I woke up on Tuesday though, my headache was not, as I had hoped it would be, gone, but had in fact turned into a very, very nasty migraine. I lay down in bed, it hurt, I stood up, it hurt, I bent down, it hurt. Basically, I needed to just be still. No doing anything.

An entire day should have dealt with it right? Wrong. I still wasn’t 100% on Wednesday, which meant I skipped my usual 6am workout with my sister. By Wednesday afternoon I was starting to feel better, but even on Thursday and Friday after doing a little bit of anything I would feel the migraine coming back.

So no workout on Friday either.

I decided I wasn’t going to be sad about this.

It is SO, SO important, that we listen to our bodies.

As great as working out is, our bodies need to heal, rest, and recover. If we refuse to listen, we can end up doing more harm than good.

In general, advice if you’re sick is as follows:

If you feel the symptoms coming on, scale back the intensity and amount of exercise.
Linda Melone, medical expert at Men’s Fitness, says “If you feel like you’re coming down with a garden-variety cold, you can still exercise without significant limitations.” She recommends cutting down the length of your workout and lowering the intensity. Generally a doctor will tell you that light exercise can help fight the early symptoms of a cold, but that’s light exercise, coupled with lots of fluid, and lots of rest.

If you feel sick ‘above the neck’ – think, blocked nose, sore throat, cold, you’re okay to exercise, but take it easy.
Thomas Weidner, the head of athletic training at Ball State University, conducted two studies where participants were infected with a common cold and then exercised. Participants who exercised reported feeling slightly better post-workout, despite their being no change in actual symptoms. So it might not hurt, but again, take it easy.

If you have a stomach issue, a fever, or anything that is making you feel physically weak, skip the workout.
This one should be pretty obvious, but in case it isn’t here it. If you’re struggling to move, feel dizzy or faint, can’t stop sweating/throwing up/hitting the crapper, then it may be difficult to workout physically speaking. To throw it back to me, working out was a myth. If I could barely walk without my head throbbing, then pushup burps and mountain climbers were going to be a struggle. If you’re unwell, and it’s any kind of serious, rest. Take time out, figure out what could be causing your body to feel any less than a 100% and then when you’re feeling more like yourself slowly ease yourself into your workout. You don’t have to do it all at once.

More on working out while sick:
Is it OK to exercise if I have a cold?
Should You Work Out When You’re Sick?

/Femi, The Girl Who Hates Working Out

RELATED: How to Make The Most of Your Time at The Gym

Femi A-Williams is a health and fitness convert trying to reconcile a healthy lifestyle and a happy food life. She is 80% whole grain and 20% donut.

All posts by Femi A-Williams

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