A woman is sitting on a couch looking sad

Photo: fizkes (Shutterstock)

Sometimes you need a day off. Sometimes you don’t need a day off, but you still take one. If you are concerned about what exercise means to you, you may feel worried or guilty: Am I being a lazy man? Am I losing all of my winnings?

Of course not! A day off doesn’t define who you are. But these feelings are pretty common and I felt them myself. Here are a few things to remember when I start questioning my commitment to fitness.

One day doesn’t matter

Being strong or fit or getting in shape is a year-long, if not a lifelong goal. Will you look back on that day with regret in five years? You probably won’t even remember it happened.

Tomorrow is a new day, so don’t fall into the trap of ruining your entire week or your entire exercise program. Either skip the day or do it tomorrow, whichever makes your way into the future easier. (Not sure? Just skip it.)

Rest is useful

A well-designed program usually includes at least one day of rest per week; some programs can even have three or four. All are perfectly valid methods of exercising. So if you take three days of rest this week instead of two, it’s not that the rest of your hard work is in vain.

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Your body will make good use of this rest anyway. Some people will say that a certain number of days of rest per week are necessary; I don’t know if this is really the case as long as your fatigue is treated well. Regardless of whether you need a day off, your body can still use one for extra rest. You will feel fresher the day you return.

Focus on consistency

A big part of the reason why one day doesn’t matter is because it matters in the long run consistency. If you’ve been doing all of your workouts for weeks and have to miss one this week, you are still the type of person who normally does all of their workouts.

You may be afraid that that one day off will take you down a slippery slope and that you will end up taking more days off. Well that is in your power! Decide how and when to get back on that horse. Plan your schedule for tomorrow or next week and make sure you can do the next few sessions.

Problem solving for next time

Why did you even take this rest day? If you’ve felt exhausted, you may need a more balanced exercise regimen that doesn’t make you feel that way. Or if you fear a particular workout, it might be a sign that something needs to be changed – either the workout or your mindset. For example, if you always skip workouts with box jumps, There are ways to overcome this fear.

Just a time management problem? Try some of these tips for regular exercise even if your schedule is already full.

Consider your overall plan

Or maybe you feel guilty about missing out on many days. This is a sign that you are on a path that is not sustainable. Are you so stressed out from work that you don’t feel motivated to exercise? You may need more than a day’s break from training to see if that relieves the extra pressure. Or maybe you need to lift before work instead of after work to see if that gives you enough lift to get through a stressful day. Or maybe you just need to solve the bigger problem in your life. (Do you talk to your boss about your workload? Are you starting to find a new job?)

Bottom Line: If you feel guilty about missing a day because it symbolizes other things in your life to you, zoom out and see what you can do to fix those other things to avoid failure of one Training day can turn into its own trivial problem unrelated to the issues that are actually stressing you out.