Can You Exercise After Getting a Tattoo?

Getting a new tattoo is an exciting change and you want the ink to stay bright and the lines to stay clear. While you may feel fine after getting your tattoo, you should avoid exercise for at least 48 hours. Ink Done Right states that tattoos can take up to six weeks to fully heal. Depending on the size and placement of your new ink, you may want to refrain from working out until the skin is fully healed.

You can work out 48 hours after getting a tattoo as long as you avoid exercises that rub or pull on the area. (Image: lechatnoir/E+/GettyImages)

Tip

Avoid exercise for at least 48 hours after getting a new tattoo. Depending on the size and placement of your tattoo, you may need to wait up to six weeks to return to your usual exercise routine.

Caring for a New Tattoo

Proper care for a new tattoo is critical to ensure it heals well, preserves bright colors and doesn't get infected. You should follow the instructions given by your tattoo artist, but here are some guidelines to follow.

When the artist is finished, she will cover your tattoo with a bandage. Keep the bandage on for 24 hours. After you remove the bandage, wash the area well with soap and water. Avoid hot showers as this can fade the ink.

Keep your new tattoo clean and apply moisturizer throughout the day. As the skin heals, a scab forms over the tattoo. Avoid picking at or scratching the scab.

Risks of Exercise

One of the biggest risks you face when working out after a tattoo is an infection. The equipment at your local gym is likely to be covered in bacteria, so you should avoid coming into contact with it.

Exercise can also stretch the skin and rub off scabs, disrupting the new ink that has not fully set in your skin. Give your body plenty of time to heal before attempting any strenuous activity.

Working Out After a Tattoo

Exercise is an important aspect of your physical health, but what types of exercise you can do with a new tattoo depend on the location and size of the tattoo. Avoid any exercises that pull on, rub or bump your tattoo. For example, lifting weights after a tattoo may be fine if you got ink on your ankle, but if the tattoo is on your forearm, you should skip the weights and focus on your lower body instead.

The same principles apply to stretching and yoga after a tattoo. Avoid stretches and poses that will pull on the skin around your new ink.

Running is generally a safe form of cardio after a tattoo as long as you avoid sweat by wearing moisture-wicking clothing or using a towel to dry the area.

Dressing for Your Workout

Wear loose clothing. Clothing that is too tight may rub and irritate your tattoo. At this stage, you want the tattoo to be able to breathe and avoid excess moisture from sweat. Make sure your gear is clean and free of any fragrances that may irritate your healing skin.

Prohibited Types of Exercise

Do not swim for at least two weeks after getting a tattoo. Natural bodies of water, like oceans and lakes, are teeming with bacteria that may infect your skin, and chemically treated pools may also cause irritation and infection. Soaking your tattoo before it is healed can also cause the ink to break down.

Avoid outdoor exercise that may expose your tattoo to the sun. The skin around the tattoo is very sensitive, and direct sunlight can bleach and fade your new ink.

Finally, avoid any contact sports where your tattoo may be bumped, stretched or grabbed.

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