Is Missing a Day of Exercise Bad?

A busy schedule, waning motivation and tough workouts can all make you think twice before heading to the gym. While missing one day of exercise won't completely derail your process, making it a habit can.

Missing exercise one day isn't bad, but don't make it a habit. (Image: Hero Images/Hero Images/GettyImages)

Before you skip a workout, consider your motives. When in the name of rest and recovery, skipping a day can be beneficial. When the result of a lack of motivation, missing exercise can hinder your progress.


Missing a day of exercise will happen. Don't beat yourself up about it, but don't make it a habit.

Exercise for Your Health

Whether you're trying to lose weight, build muscle or simply live a healthy lifestyle, exercise is an integral part of your health. Exercise helps to keep your heart strong, burn calories and increase your energy level, so it's important to create an exercise routine that you're comfortable with and that you can commit to on a daily basis.

The Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans recommends you get 150 to 300 minutes of moderately intense cardio exercise a week, plus two 20-minute strength training sessions. Missing one day here and there won't negatively affect your overall health and wellness, but it could be the start of a dangerous habit of skipping exercise on a more regular basis.

Rest and Recovery

When you've participated in a strenuous workout, such as endurance running or weightlifting, giving your body a day to recover can help you come back stronger. Continuing strenuous exercise when your muscles and joints are sore could result in injury, says the American Council of Exercise (ACE) Fitness.

Still, just because you engaged in high-impact exercise doesn't mean you should automatically skip your next workout. Interspersing days of high-impact training with days of lower-impact exercise methods can help you stay healthy, on track and injury-free.

Keep Yourself Motivated

When you've worked out recently, it can be tempting to allow yourself to take a day or two to avoid the gym and participate in other hobbies. But getting off track can make it difficult to get back on again. Making exercise part of your daily routine is what turns it from a daily annoyance into a daily habit.

Stay motivated by setting easy-to-achieve goals and offering yourself incentives. For instance, if you go to the gym every day for a week, you get a pedicure or a new top. This helps you get your foot in the door even when you don't necessarily feel like working out.

Use Your Ingenuity

Even if you don't feel like going to the gym, it doesn't mean you have to go without exercise altogether. On days when you're tempted to skip a workout, plan another physical activity instead. Whether it's a pickup game of volleyball at the beach, a hike or even parking far away from you building, it doesn't have to be formal to be exercise. By making a conscious effort to move your body more, you'll be able to squeeze in exercise on days when your motivation is lacking.

Signs You Need a Rest

ACE Fitness advises there can be such a thing as too much exercise. OTS, or overtraining syndrome, can contribute to decreased performance and the release of those nasty stress hormones — epinephrine and cortisol — which lead to agitation and less-than-optimal sleep. If you're experiencing this or other symptoms of overtraining, taking a day off from exercise could be the best thing you could do for yourself.

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