Though exercise has tremendous health benefits, there are times when exercise can harm you. At such times, you need to skip your regular workouts and take a break.

Certain conditions are absolute contraindications and may need a long or possibly a total break while some contraindications may allow you to start your routine workouts after a short interval.

For example, fever, cold, or pain due to mild conditions can be short-term contraindications, while conditions such as uncontrolled high blood pressure or a recently diagnosed heart condition may require a longer restraint.

In pregnancy, certain pregnancy exercises are strongly advocated because of their benefits. However, if any complication develops such as placenta previa or vaginal bleeding, exercises must be put on hold. Consult your obstetrician for the same.

Check out the reasons for not exercising below, and exercise restraint if you are associated with any of these conditions.

Reasons for not working out

The following conditions emphatically are reasons why you should take a break from your workouts and allow these conditions to pass or be treated. Some are absolute conditions and may require your health provider’s permission before you start exercising again.

1. Fever

Fever is one contraindication to doing your exercise workout or any physical activity for that matter. The fever may or may not be associated with influenza or cold but it is an indication for not exercising.

Why you should not exercise when you have a fever?

  • During a fever, your immune system is under stress battling the infection that is causing the fever. Exercising at such times puts your immune system under additional stress, making its fighting infection less efficient.
  • Body fluids decrease during fever and exercise causes sweating, which can lead to dehydration.
  • Exercise also overheats the body adding to the increased temperature of the body caused by fever.
  • Fever increases your resting heart rate, which results in a less effective workout.

2. Acute asthmatic attack

You should always treat an acute attack of bronchial asthma first. If you exercise during the acute attack it will make your asthma symptoms worse because exercise will aggravate your shortness of breath

However, patients with bronchial asthma can exercise in the absence of an acute attack.  Avoid exercising in cold temperatures and practice yoga because it helps to reduce the frequency of acute attacks.

3. Head injury

If you have had a head injury, it is imperative that you do not return to your exercise too soon. The results can be catastrophic, which can include neurological and brain damage. Another accidental injury to the head can cause a second impact syndrome, which can be fatal.

It is necessary that the symptoms of concussion that include nausea, vomiting, confusion, slurred speech, amnesia, and loss of consciousness should completely subside and a recovery period of one to two weeks be allowed for a mild concussion.

In cases of severe concussion, up to one month may be required to recuperate. Follow your doctor’s advice before resuming your exercise workout or participating in sports.

4. Any pain

Any pain that occurs during exercise is a contraindication for exercise. It may be an old injury or muscle soreness or a sudden onset of new pain.

The latter should be investigated immediately. Adequate rest till the cause of the pain is treated and the pain has absolutely subsided is a must.

5. Lack of sleep

Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation does three things to you. It makes you feel fatigued and decreases your energy levels and your motivation.

It also makes you feel lazy and impairs your memory causing a loss of concentration. At such times, it is obvious that you are not going to feel like exercising. And even if you do exercise, it will be a half-hearted attempt, which is not going to give any value. So, don’t exercise at times like these.

Jet lag is another indication not to exercise. It is better to have a good meal and get that much-needed sleep and rest.

Chronic fatigue can be a sign of some underlying illness. Consult your doctor at such times.

Secondly, your body releases the growth hormone during sleep, which builds up your bones and muscles. Lack of sleep will, therefore, not help you recover well after a workout and will also not help build up the strength of your muscles.

6. Back pain

Normal back pain is a sign of a back muscle spasm or injury. To recuperate, that muscle requires to be given rest, and movement of that muscle should be kept at a minimum. Therefore, do not exercise as that will only delay the recovery.

In a person with chronic backache, an acute attack of backache requires complete bed rest and treatment. Exercise is the last thing you should even think about.

7. Some pregnancy complications

Pregnancy is never a contraindication for exercise. Some safe pregnancy exercises are advocated for a healthy pregnancy and labor. However, there are certain conditions, which do not allow exercising during pregnancy. Do not exercise if you suffer from any of these pregnancy conditions.

  • Any pregnant woman who has a medical condition such as heart disease, high blood pressure, asthma, and uncontrolled diabetes
  • Vaginal bleeding or spotting during pregnancy
  • Severe anemia
  • History of miscarriage or premature delivery
  • Placenta previa. This is a low placenta (placenta situated low in the uterus close to the cervix). Acute blood loss can occur.
  • Weak or incompetent cervix. The risk of miscarriage is high.
  • Multiple pregnancies (like twins).

8. After alcohol

Do not exercise after having taken alcohol for the following reasons:

  • After those drinks, your coordination and balance are impaired making you more prone to injury.
  • Secondly, alcohol is a diuretic making you urinate more often. Combine this with sweating during your workout and it can lead to dehydration.
  • Thirdly, alcohol slows down your post-exercise recovery, making you feel more fatigued and sore in the muscles after your workout.
  • Fourthly, alcohol reduces your endurance and aerobic capacity. In short, your body will not reap the full benefits of your workout.
  • Lastly, alcohol interferes with the metabolism of fat, and muscle growth is adversely affected.

9. Bad air quality

Avoid exercising outdoors when an air quality alert has been sounded. Environmental pollution tends to be highest in the afternoon. Therefore, the better time of the day for physical activity is during the morning or the evening hours.

Even otherwise, air pollution is a serious health hazard. With exercise, you breathe in much more polluted air. In the lungs, the harmful constituents of this bad air are transferred into the blood, which then carries them to the various parts of the body including the organs such as the brain and the heart.

The main pollutants are ozone, particulate matter, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, and lead.

Short-term exposure to these pollutants can cause headaches, dizziness, and nausea. Long-term, the effects are serious. They include heart disease, lung cancer, respiratory diseases, and damage to nerves, brain, kidneys, liver, and other organs.

10. Absolute health contraindications for exercise

  • Recently diagnosed angina or an old unstable angina
  • Acute heart disease
  • Unstable diabetes
  • Arrhythmias of recent origin or an old uncontrolled one (either tachycardia or bradycardia)
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Low blood pressure accompanied by symptoms like fainting and dizziness.
  • Severe anemia
  • Longstanding severe headache

After an interval of having lain off from exercise, do start only after your doctor gives the thumbs up. In addition, start in a gradual fashion and take some days to come back to your previous workout intensity. Do not start vigorously with the intention of making up for the lost time.