Editor's Note: When you see these three dots surrounded by a gray rectangle — 1 — you can click on it to get further information about the topic. Click a second time, and the message goes away.
Are there times when you should not exercise?
The short answer: Yes.
When are those times?
There are a number of times when exercise isn't advisable, and if you are a regular exerciser, you will find it hard to NOT exercise. But there truly are times when it's not a good idea. At the very least, there are times when you need to modify your activities.
Some of the reasons for not exercising include:
You are coughing or wheezing from a cold or the flu.
You are running a fever.
You went to bed too late (or you didn't sleep well) and you are too tired.
You are having significant, ongoing pain in a joint.
You have an injury or surgery that requires time to heal.
You have asthma and you have had a flare-up.
You recently had a concussion.
You have very sore muscles from the previous day's activities.
You have chest pain, shortness of breath, or dizziness.
Your blood pressure is not under control.
You are having a flare-up of your condition (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis).2
Your doctor (or dentist) has recommended that you avoid exercise for a certain length of time.
How should you get back into exercise?
When determining how quickly you can return to exercise, these factors contribute to your decision:
- how long you were away from exercise;
- why you were away (illness or injury as opposed to a holiday);
- your age; and,
- your previous fitness level.
Keep these very important "rules" in mind:
As you return to activity, do it slowly and with moderation.
The higher your level of fitness before your absence, the easier it will be to return.
The longer you are away, the longer it will take to recover intensity levels you had achieved before.
Walking is one of the best ways to re-start your exercise regime.
Here's some rules to follow when returning to gym or fitness class:
If you were away from the gym or fitness class for less than a week, start at 80%-90% of your original intensity.
If you are away for more than a week, start at half the intensity you were doing before you left.
Slowly increase over time.
There is a fine line between a slow, gradual return and pushing too hard. In fact, more is not always better. Moderate exercise is good for you at any time when you are well, but returning from injury or illness means that you must do it slowly.
If you are a regular exerciser, you will not find it difficult to return if you miss a week. Anything more than that and you can be certain that returning will become more difficult with each day that you stay away. When you return, pace yourself and be kind to yourself: You will return to a stronger fitness level in time.
If you are dealing with a specific condition, you might want to check out one of these articles about how to deal with it:
- Exercise and Allergies
- Exercise and Arthritis
- Exercise and Asthma
- Exercise and Balance
- Exercise and Cancer
- Exercise and Chronic Pain
- Exercise and Circulation
- Exercise and COPD
- Exercise and Dementia
- Exercise and Diabetes
- Exercise and Heart Disease
- Exercise and Hypertension
- Exercise and Lifestyle and Older Adults: Recent Research
- Exercise and Mood
- Exercise and Osteoporosis
- Exercise and Our Brain
- Exercise and Pain vs. Burn: Will it ever stop hurting?
- Exercise and Parkinson's
- Exercise and Sleep
- Exercise and Stroke
- Exercise and Viruses: Exercise Immunology
I am a BCRPA-certified fitness instructor in Vancouver, BC. I teach four classes at the West End Community Centre in Vancouver, BC, mostly designed for the older adult. The Inevitable Disclaimer: Everything published here expresses only my opinion, based on my training and research. What you do with the information is entirely your own responsibility. I am not liable for any injury you suffer that seems to be related to anything you read here. Always consult your doctor before beginning an exercise program. For other articles, return to the table of contents.