5 Reasons To Workout When You Don't Feel Like It

awkward gym selfie

I headed up to the gym yesterday for a quick workout and after about five minutes texted Ryan, "I'm not feelin' this." I usually take Sundays off but every now and then I'll go. I frequently hit a wall though, especially if I didn't get a nap beforehand and think, why did I come up here? All this got me thinking about when you should and should not push yourself to workout. Here's what I came up with.

5 Reasons To Workout When You Don't Feel Like It

1. You'll feel better afterwards! Endorphins, your brain's feel good neurotransmitters (or opiate-like chemicals) kick in and can give you that "runner's high" - even if you're just lifting weights! I did learn something new though.
Researchers have found that light-to-moderate weight training or cardiovascular exercise doesn't produce endorphins, only heavy weights or training that incorporates sprinting or other anaerobic exertion. 
When your body crosses over from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state, it's suddenly operating without enough oxygen to satisfy the muscles and cells screaming out for it. This is when the "runner's high" occurs. Source. 
Even if endorphins aren't the end result of your gym time, you will at least leave with a sense of accomplishment. The knowledge that you did something.

2. Your schedule demands it. As a busy wife and mom, time gets away from me. I knew it had been a few days since I'd been and that I wouldn't be able to go today. Likely not tomorrow either. If I didn't get a workout in, a whole week could easily pass and with it my attempts at muscle-building. Sometimes your schedule will dictate whether or not you push through "I don't feel like it" and do it anyways.

3. You've set goals to reach. Staying physically active on the tough days, even if it's not your best workout helps maintain strength levels and keeps momentum up. It's the old, "something is better than nothing." It you're actively striving to make progress in the gym or on a certain body part, knowing you are putting in the time and effort means you'll meet that goal that much sooner. Muscle maintenance trumps muscle loss.

4. You're sore from a previous workout. No, this isn't necessarily a reason to workout but moving your body will help work the lactic acid and soreness out that accumulated from your last session. Experience has shown me that it's really easy to let a day or two of rest due to extreme soreness turn into more than that so sometimes it really is best to get moving again. End with some stretching/foam rolling and you're golden!

5. You're striving for self-discipline. You are training your body to do the thing it doesn't want to do. How many times in our day-to-day life must we do things we don't really FEEL like doing? All the time. I get tired of doing dishes but I continue to do them because I like to cook my own food. I feel better when I wake up to a clean kitchen but I don't always feel like tidying up the night before. Each time do you make a choice to "do it anyways" your resolve grows. Flex those muscles and improve your mental toughness at the same time.

All that being said, I think there are a few times when it might not be in your best interest to workout.

  1. Are you sick? Like sick sick? Stay home and rest.
  2. Are you so tired you can hardly keep your eyes open? Sleep. Don't sweat.
  3. Are you super burnt out on the type of workout you've been doing? Does the thought of the gym make you want to spew expletives? Maybe you should re-think your routine. Do you genuinely need some time off and a fresh outlook? Do you need a new activity? 

I've found that if I'll listen to my body, I can usually determine what the right choice is for that day. Only you can decide and only YOU know whether or not a workout will leave you better off in the long run OR leave you depleted and at risk of burnout.

What does your inner dialogue sound like surrounding the gym and workouts? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

No comments: