I am going to say something controversial today: I believe there are times you shouldn’t be working out.
Everyone says that exercising is good for you. And I agree that the general idea behind that statement is indeed true. I am not denying the benefits of working out.
On principle, regular exercise will keep you in shape. It will revitalize you and give you more energy to function. You will be able to eat more because of the calories you burn while working out and your sleep quality will improve.
Any form of activity is good. You can go on long walks with your dog, go hiking, play basketball, lift weights, do aerobics or yoga. As long as you squeeze in those three 1-hour sessions of exercise a week, you’re good right? I’m not so sure about that.
I know for a fact that sometimes working out can bring you more bad than good. Here’s why:
Exercise is putting stress on your body. And your body is not always well-equipped to handle it. Working out can sometimes be the worst thing you can do to your body. If you are struggling with other health issues, you need to treat those first and then think about exercise and improving your stamina.
Here are my top ten reasons not to work out:
- You suffer from chronic stress. If you are already stressed out all the time, why add an additional strain on your body? Forcing yourself to work out despite stress won’t make you feel better. It will only make you feel worse because you won’t see the effects you want to see and that will only stress you out further. Now, if it’s an activity you really enjoy doing (not for the sake of losing weight etc.) then feel free to keep it up. But otherwise, drop it for now.
- You don’t get enough sleep. Sleep is vital for our health. It’s when our bodies recover from the stress of the day. If you don’t have the time to get that 8 hours of sleep every day then don’t bother working out, it will not do you any good. And definitely do not sacrifice the time you could spend recovering for working out!
- You are exhausted all the time. Same as being stressed, feeling tired won’t go away after you tire yourself out further. Focus on recovery first and exercise later.
- Your basal temperature is low. If you’re not doing it yet, I recommend you take your body temperature each day, as soon as you wake up. It’s a good indicator of your overall wellbeing. If your basal temperature is regularly around 97.2 degrees and doesn’t go up throughout the day, don’t work out.
- Your body temperature drops after you work out. That’s the sign indicating your body perceives working out as a stress source. You want your temperature to be higher after you work out, not lower.
- You are recovering from trauma or PTSD. This is similar to suffering from chronic stress. You need to first work on your mental health and only then can begin thinking about working out.
- You have an untreated physical injury. You’re not going to jump around with a broken leg, right? That would be crazy. So don’t go jogging again until that sprained ankle fully heals. Similarly, don’t go weight lifting while running a fever. Focus on getting your physical health in order first.
- You have been doing restrictive diets. Have you spent the last month eating under 1000 calories each day? Your body doesn’t have enough energy to function, let alone work out!
- You have been doing low-carb diets. Carbs are the main source of energy for our bodies. I know that hating wheat is all the rage now but you better embrace grains and starches if you want your exercise to bring positive effects. Focus on getting all the proper macronutrients and once you are sure you are not missing anything, you can start working out.
- Working out feels like a chore. Don’t do activities that you don’t enjoy! How is that supposed to do you any good? If you have been forcing yourself to do a particular form of exercise for the past week and still don’t feel any joy, it’s time to put a stop to it. Try something different if you need to. Or better yet, do a variety of activities instead of just one all the time.
As you can see, there are plenty of good reasons not to work out. But what should you do if you want to feel like you want to work out again?
Work on your metabolism first.
- Read the Diet Recovery and Eat for Heat. You will learn everything about how metabolism works and what to do to improve it.
- Do the Anti-Diet Challenge to challenge your views about traditional diet. You will be surprised!
- If you are low carb and want to fix that, read my post about eating carbs on GAPS. It contains some helpful tips, even if you aren’t doing GAPS.
- Sleep, sleep, sleep.
- Focus on relaxing first.
- Let go of the “I must work out to be healthy” mindset. I know it’s difficult but you will be better off in the long run.
And if you genuinely feel that you can’t wait to work out and move your body, that’s when you’re ready to do so.