Your knees ache, your back is tight, and you can’t seem to focus. We’ve all been there. Constant activity can wear your body down, and just like your mind, sometimes it needs a break.
Then there are days where all it takes is starting a workout and you’re over the slump, leaving the gym feeling better than when you arrived.
How do you tell the difference between a worn out body and a simple slump? Tune into your body and really listen. Our bodies are made up of amazing systems that intricately work together and constantly send us messages. All you need to do is listen.
Here are 5 messages your body may tell you that signal you deserve a break. (And here are some ways to spend your break!)
- Pain. Sore muscles are totally normal. Experiencing true pain is not. Pain is your body’s way of saying, “I need attention! Stop what you’re doing.” Imagine ignoring your best friend’s calls for help and instead saying, “Sorry I’m busy at the gym.” That’d be rude and you wouldn’t do it. Your body doesn’t deserve that either. Sore muscles ache, injured muscles (and bones) hurt – you’ll know the difference.
- Moodiness. We all get crabby – it’s a part of life. Bad days happen. Usually, exercise can help simmer these moods down and replace them with waves of serotonin. But if you’ve been tired and moody for a few days or weeks in a row, it could be your body’s way of begging for a break.
- Your number one. I went there. If your urine is dark yellow (indicating dehydration) you should avoid a good sweat-sesh. It takes approximately 45 minutes to recover from mild dehydration – meaning you won’t recover while working out. So grab a bottle (or 2) of H2O, and get chugging until you’re in the clear (literally).
- Minimal Z’s. Exercise has been shown to increase energy, much like a morning cup of Joe. However, if you’ve spent a few nights in a row getting too little snooze-time, you may want to think twice before getting your fitness on. If anything, take a nice long walk or bike ride, then hit the sheets early. Ignoring your body’s calls for sleep mean your muscles won’t have time to grow and recover – so no gain train for you my friend.
- You genuinely don’t want to. I’ll be the first to admit sometimes it takes stepping into the weight room before I realize I actually want to workout. But then there are days where the thought of clanging metal bars makes me roll my eyes and say, “No thank you.” It’s okay to have off days, much like with your eating habits. Every once in a while your body just needs a break. Not because it’s broken, not because it’s tired, and not because it needs some water. Simply because. Kind of like when your mom used to say, “Because I told you so.”
Whatever your reason, don’t feel bad for taking a day off. It doesn’t mean you’re lazy and you won’t lose any progress from one missed day. Learning to listen to your body is a skill not many people have mastered. I promise you, if you learn to tune in to what your body is telling you, your health and fitness will both improve. And, you’ll hit tomorrow even harder.