An injury? Yes. The Mad Men premiere? Probably not.
By Katy Lindenmuth, Women's Health
You know that working out does amazing things for your body, mind, and general well-being. But sometimes you're better off staying home instead of sweating. We asked Holly Perkins, a certified strength and conditioning specialist and a New Balance fitness ambassador, for a few specific instances in which it's actually best to steer clear of exercising. Listen up!
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You're On the Verge of Getting Sick "There is a one- to two-day window when people suspect they're sick but often don't listen to the symptoms," says Perkins. If you think you might be coming down with a cold or the flu, take a day or two off from the gym since exercise can tax your immune system. (As an added bonus, you won't be spreading germs.)
You Suspect You're Overtraining This one is a bit tricky because the symptoms of overtraining aren't always clear-cut, says Perkins. But if you work out five or more times per week (or two to four times per week intensely), familiarize yourself with these overtraining symptoms: (1) You're not making weekly progress in your fitness efforts. (2) You're feeling weaker than usual. (3) You feel exhausted for three workouts in a row. (4) You majorly dread going to the gym. "This can be your body telling you take a break," says Perkins.
MORE: How to Tell If Your Workout Is Too Intense
You're Injured (or Were recently Injured) and Your Workout Would Use the Affected Body Part
Banged up an arm or your back in the past two to four weeks? Skip the gym if that's the area you were going to focus on. (So, say you recently twisted your ankle--you'll want to avoid the treadmill.) "There does come a time when it's essential to start using the injured body part again, usually around three to four weeks after a mild injury," says Perkins. In the meantime, if you injure your shoulder, for example, you can still hit up a stationary bike or do a gentle leg workout.
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You're Crazy-Sore From Yesterday's Workout
Rate your muscle soreness on a scale from one to 10, with 10 being severe, can't-get-out-of-bed soreness. "If you are a seven or eight on that scale, let your muscles recover a bit more before going after a big workout," suggests Perkins. The whole goal of any workout is to "stress" your body so that when it recovers, it will be bigger, better, and stronger--so it's essential to let the muscle heal to gain that new level of fitness. "Working out when those muscles are sore is interrupting the recovery process," says Perkins. (Instead, try this trick for the best way to reduce post-workout soreness.)
You Have a Huge Race the Next Day
It's A-OK--recommended even--to sit on the sidelines for a day or two before a marathon, triathlon, or long biking excursion. Ideally, Perkins says, you'll train hard for your event in the months leading up to it; then, for one to three days prior, you should be in active recovery mode, meaning you're allowing your body to rest so you can show up on race day as close to 100 percent as possible.
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