Exercise is one of the best things that you can do for your physical, mental, and emotional health. It’s akin to eating and sleeping. This is why the National Health Service recommends that adults get at least 150 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous aerobic activity per week.
But, let’s face it: Most of us are managing busy schedules. Despite how easy it is to access an Aaptiv workout of varying length and equipment requirements, sometimes it’s just hard to fit it in.
Whether a jam-packed work day is to blame or your body is just aching and needs a break, we shouldn’t be beating ourselves up over a missed workout.
The desire to stay in shape and be fit can quickly go from a positive to a negative when we place stress and pressure on ourselves to maintain such a strict regimen.
“There is a big difference between healthy exercise and over-exercising, which can become stress-inducing and lead to injury,” warns Molly Niles Renshaw, Pilates instructor and co-founder of the Santa Monica-based studio Phoenix Classical Pilates. “When people create even more stress for themselves in their desire to be perfect, it can actually have the opposite effect of what you want from an active lifestyle.”
While it’s important to maintain some level of consistency when it comes to working out, here are some reasons why it’s perfectly okay to miss a workout once in awhile—and why you shouldn’t beat yourself up in the process.
Your muscles need rest
Your muscles need exercise, but they also need rest to repair themselves, strengthen, and grow, explains Renshaw. In other words, it’s actually good for the body to take a day or two respite from active exercise. “Think of missing your workout as time for muscles to repair. Your body may very well have needed the workout break,” she says. “Beating yourself up accomplishes nothing.”
The stress of a missed workout isn’t healthy
Remember why you work out: to be healthier, overall. Well, if you feel guilt over a missed workout, your levels of the stress hormone cortisol spike.
This can lead to a myriad of issues, including trouble sleeping, weight gain, and anxiety. Instead of stressing about missing your workout, Hector Mercado, co-Founder Phoenix Classical Pilates suggests taking a deep cleansing breath in through the nose and out through the mouth.
“You may not be at your fitness studio or gym, but you can go for a walk, or do a few roll-ups, or just meditate to relieve any stress you may have over missing a workout,” he says. “Use your exercise break productively—don’t beat yourself up.”
You risk taking the fun away from working out
In Sport Scientist Dr. Elesa Zehndorfer’s opinion, there is no such thing as a “missed” workout, only a workout that didn’t happen because life gets in the way.
“If you regiment exercise too strongly, the fun will disappear. We know, scientifically speaking, that if you aren’t enjoying what you do, it will be less effective and you will be far less likely to stick to it,” she says.
You don’t need more pressure in your life
The average American faces enough pressures in their life, from their crazy boss to peers on social media. The last person you need making you feel inadequate in any way is yourself. If you miss a workout, Dr. Zehndorfer suggests merely making sure that you substitute something instead (as a less stressful and more enjoyable life equals greater health): a great movie, watching the sunset, running a long, hot bubble bath with candles, baking your own bread, an early night, for example. “That’s just another way of mixing it up and staying healthy that doesn’t (and shouldn’t), mean only counting hours spent in a gym.”
Life happens—and it will again
No one is perfect—and life isn’t either. Sometimes things get in the way—and they likely will again. Whatever the reason, Renshaw recommends being mindful about how missing the workout makes you feel. Allow yourself to let go of any guilt. “Feeling guilty and holding on to that guilt will have [a] spiral effect and cause more stress,” she says. “Try to stay positive and refocus your mental energy on getting back to your exercise routine, because tomorrow is another day.”
Balance is key
While you should absolutely aim to make the most of your Aaptiv workouts, beating yourself up will get you nowhere. It has the opposite effect of what exercise should be doing for you. Instead of making you feel relaxed and happy it will make you feel like a nervous wreck. “Protecting your stress level is so important to maintaining balance in your life,” adds Renshaw. “Allow yourself to recharge your body mentally and physically rather than putting negative energy into a missed workout.”