I was talking with my doctor yesterday about a problem I have with my foot. It’s been going on for months, but as I told her, there have been periods where it was much better — when I was doing yoga 5 days a week pretty consistently. Unfortunately, there are a lot of times I can’t exercise, and many that I don’t just because “I just don’t feel like it.” Have you ever found yourself saying something similar?
We know exercise is good for us, but sometimes it’s just hard to make ourselves do it.
There’s a difference in not wanting to exercise and needing to take time off from it though. There are definitely times we need to take recovery days. Each person is different, and each of us needs to listen to our bodies. Nobody knows us better than we know ourselves, and if we know we need to take a recovery day, we should allow ourselves to take it without feeling bad about it.
Sometimes, though, it can be hard to tell if we really shouldn’t exercise or if we just don’t want to. So how do we figure that out? Asking ourselves a few questions about our real motivations for not exercising might help. Here are some that have been helpful for me:
5 Questions To Ask Yourself When Considering Whether to Skip Exercise
1. Am I in too much pain to exercise?
For those of us who live with chronic pain, we need to determine if, at our current pain level, we’re able to exercise. After living with chronic pain for a while, we can usually tell when it’s okay to do some exercise and when it’s not.
2. Am I my “normal” tired, or am I feeling that bone-crushing fatigue that accompanies illness or a pain flare?
You probably know what I’m talking about. There are times we’re just tired from a long day at work, or not feeling much like doing anything. Then there’s that bone-crushing fatigue we feel when we’re sick or when we’re having a flare. When we’re feeling fatigued, our bodies may be telling us we need to rest. ‘Pushing through’ might not be our best move here.
3. Do I feel unable, or am I just unwilling to exercise?
It’s easy to think we’re not able to exercise when we’re not feeling great, but sometimes it can just be that we’ve gotten so used to not exercising that we really don’t want to. As we talked about in Let’s Get Personal, my pain from fibromyalgia kept me from exercising, but not exercising made my pain worse. When I started to move more, I didn’t really feel like I wanted to, but I knew I was okay to do it. The truth was, I had just been unwilling to do it; mostly out of fear I’d feel worse.
4. Am I running a fever?
Obviously, if we’re running a fever, we don’t need to exercise. If we’re running a fever, that means our body is fighting something. We don’t need to add more physical stress to it.
5. Do I have musculoskeletal issues that could be made worse by exercising?
As I mentioned earlier, I have an ongoing problem with my foot. The first thing my doctor did was get an x-ray to make sure there was nothing going on with the bones in my feet and determine I wouldn’t make it worse by exercising. She then gave me some exercises to strengthen and stretch the small muscles in my feet. If there’s potential for causing further injury, we definitely need to skip our workout and see our doctor.
Answering these questions honestly can usually help us determine whether or not we should exercise on that particular day. It can help us decide whether we should take a recovery day or if we’re just making excuses not to exercise.
Is It Time for a Change?
If you find you’re just making excuses, maybe you’re just not enjoying your exercise program anymore. Maybe it’s time to change it up a little. Perhaps, as we talked about in Do We Need to Change How We View Exercise, we need to forget about the ‘shoulds’ surrounding it and enjoy how movement makes us feel.
We need to learn to listen to our bodies and take breaks from exercise if we need to. We also need to recognize when we’re making excuses not to do it.
Do you ever find yourself in this position of trying to decide whether you should exercise or not? How do you tell if you need to take a break or you’re just making excuses not to exercise? Please share!