10 Reasons Not to Work Out

nopeBelieve it or not, sometimes it is a really, really bad idea to work out.  First I said that carbs were not evil, and now this.  I know.  I am just breaking all the health rules, huh?  I will say this though: I’m doing it for my health.

It’s a controversial idea these days to eat carbs and skip the workout.  I mean, practically everyone will tell you that they are allergic to wheat as they eat low carb meals with nary a starch in sight.  And everyone knows that working out is good for you, right?

Well, maybe not.

Working out is generally a great idea, whether it’s lifting weights, going for walks and hikes, practicing yoga, joining an ultimate Frisbee league, or doing high-impact aerobics.  But sometimes it is the worst thing you can do to your body.

Why?  Simply put: because if your body is operating in stress mode, then exercise is perceived by your body as more stress.

If you have signs of slow metabolism like a low waking temperature or chronically cold hands and feet, if you are chronically stressed out and not getting enough sleep, if you use a formula for your workout that never changes, if you feel “stuck” when it comes to your health, then working out will not solve your problems.

So when is it a bad idea to work out?  Here are the top ten reasons:

  1. Your waking temperature is low, and it stays low all day.  Say you wake up with a temperature around 97.2 degrees, and as you get up, eat breakfast, go to the gym, and get moving, it stays at 97 degrees, stop working out.
  2. You are completely exhausted, overworked and overtired.  I cannot stress this enough: sleep is just as important as food, water, and exercise.  If you are trading sleep for working out, stop it!  Be active, but not at the expense of a good night’s rest.
  3. After you work out, your temperature drops: a sign of stress.  This is the concrete measurement here: you can find out if your body is experiencing a workout as a source stress or relaxation by the direction your temperature moves afterwards.
  4. You do not sleep enough.  Get 8 hours of sleep, and go to bed earlier.  Then, you can worry about training for a marathon.
  5. You are recovering from chronic stress.  Been a stress ball your whole life?  It’s essential that you don’t add “workouts” to the list of things that stress you out.  Take a break from working out, and only add activities back in that you truly enjoy.
  6. You are recovering from trauma, abuse, or PTSD.  Similar to chronic stress, if you have been a victim of abuse or trauma, and/or you have symptoms of PTSD, it may be best to skip the workouts for a while until your acute symptoms subside.
  7. You have been dieting for years.  Dieting restricts calories, and restricted calories lowers your metabolism and puts your body into a stressed state.  Before you work out with gusto, you will need to start eating enough calories and sleeping enough during the night.  Otherwise your workout is a wash, metabolically.
  8. You have been eating low carb.  Similar to dieting for years, restricting carbohydrates can throw your body into a fight-or-flight situation where your metabolism slows down.  Carbs are one of three macronutrients; you don’t need to restrict them!
  9. You have been forcing yourself to do aerobic activity for 30-60 minutes at least 3 times a week, and you hate it.  Aerobics are only one kind of activity, but there is a tendency to think that it trumps all other forms of exercise because it “burns fat and calories” and is “good for your heart”.  This is not the whole story.  Long, sustained aerobic workouts are actually not the best way to slim down.  Interval training, sprints, spazzercise, and other variable aerobic activities do a much better job.
  10. You feel like working out is a chore, instead of something you find joy in. The point of movement is not to achieve an aesthetic, or to check off a task to get done.

So how do you solve these problems so you can work out again?  There are several remedies you can try.

  • Join the Anti-Diet Challenge.  It’s free.  You get to eat waffles.  Your temperature will rise.  It’s all good!
  • Read Diet Recovery and Eat For Heat.  They are excellent tools to help you troubleshoot what’s going on with your metabolism…and how to understand metabolism in the first place!
  • If you are grain-free, read my post on how to get enough carbs on GAPS.
  • Learn more about how sleeping can make you skinny!  (And stress can make you fat.)
  • Let go.  Let go of all that you think you know about what is healthy and unhealthy.  I’m here to tell you that optimal health can be found through working out less, eating more ice cream, and getting mindful.  Yep.

Remember, in the long run, you want to be active for optimal health.  But in the meantime, you’d better make sure that your metabolism is working properly or you can spend the rest of your life using something healthy (working out) as a stress weapon.  Heal your metabolism, then start working out.

How do you know that you’re ready to work out?  When you feel like you just cannot wait to run up the side of mountain.  Then, you’re ready.

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional, and all these ideas are simply my opinion based on the reading and research that I have done and what I have seen work in my life.

PAID ENDORSEMENT DISCLOSURE: In order for me to support my blogging activities, I may receive monetary compensation or other types of remuneration for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial and/or link to any products or services from this blog.


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  1. I saw you were working on this yesterday, and I was thing, but Kendahl, I LIKE working out finally. 😛 It looks like I can, I haven’t taken any temps other than the morning one though. I’m finally feeling good enough to go exercise, I didn’t want to be told no 😀

    • If you like working out, then that’s a GREAT sign! I have been in that place lately too 🙂 Like yesterday when I went hiking and then suddenly said to myself “I’m gonna do my sprints now up this mountain!” Healthy metabolism rocks!

  2. I am one that should not work out. I had such extreme adrenal fatigue and zero drive. Since working hard at the adrenal piece I occasionally enjoy a good walk but really, I don;t have the energy to spare.
    Wheat free, whole food eating mama. With lots of carbs. 😉

  3. This is a pretty controversial idea. I love working out with a caveat of some days are better than others. 😉 I do think it’s good to give your body a rest though to “catch up”. I think a lot of it is listening to what your body is telling you and my body tells me to get moving! 🙂 I am looking more into this Eat for Heat thing, and I am excited to learn more.

    Thank you for sharing,

    • Yes 🙂 And the good news is that it’s temporary. If you heal your metabolism, then you can rest assured that you can work out to your heart’s content. But knowing the low metabolism warning signs are useful, so you can have a pass to take it easy when you need to!

  4. Kendahl, what happens if you have, say, a temp of 96.8 in the morning and work out?

    • If your temp is that low in the morning, I would be surprised if working out made it go up. But sleeping more and eating more starch/sugar/salt in the morning would help the number go up. Once the number is up, try working out again. But bodies are also tricky! So some might see that the temp doesn’t drop after a workout and they can keep going. And like always, the best litmus test is: do you have energy to go? If you feel like running around, go to the gym!

  5. Bernadette says:

    I am one that shouldn’t work out either. With severe adrenal issues/insufficiency as well as other chronic illness, pushing myself too far can set me back weeks. (which is where I am at right now sadly)
    When I do feel well though going for a walk or gardening sure does help me overall. Too bad it’s so cold out right now! I would so love to have my bare feet on the ground! 🙂

  6. I appreciate this post. I have chronic fatigue and immune dysfunction and I get so tired of people saying if I just worked out, I’d feel better! I am set back terribly if I do too much and even if I do a tiny work out, it sets me back for the day and takes all the energy I had to make dinner OR do a load of laundry. (I have to choose very carefully what I am going to expend energy on.) I used to looove jogging, and my weight is stuck at way above where I want to be, but I need to heal before I can do exercise! Really good job explaining why exercise can be worse when you are already under too much stress for one reason or another.

  7. From what I have learned from my acupuncture patients and coaching clients, sometimes the healthiest thing you can do for yourself is to take a one week vacation (to a sunny location such as the Caribbean), get plenty of sleep and sunshine, and don’t “exercise” (in the traditional sense of going to the gym).

  8. Great article! I cannot stress enough to those around me that working out too much is worse than never working out at all. Stress is stress to our bodies.

  9. I have recently had to give the gym up due to bursitis or tendonitis (I’m not sure which) in my hips. I have been off for 3 weeks and still haven’t made any improvements. I am really starting to miss working out! I am gaining weight and having digestion issues now. I do enjoy occasional breaks from exercise though. I always feel so refreshed after taking a short time off.

  10. BlessedCP says:

    I think that no matter what your stress and fitness level gentle stretching would be beneficial and even relaxing. I have a dvd routine set to classical music, I love doing it and it is only 15-20 min.


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