When to Avoid Exercise

Is there a time when you should actively avoid exercise? You better believe it! Get-Fit Guy explains when strenuous activity can actually do more harm than good.

Ben Greenfield
June 13, 2014

Recently, one of my clients came down with the flu. It was after she’d been through a tough week of exercise combined with starting a new job, and the one-two-combo of stress from exercise and stress from work seemed to simply be too much for her immune system.

But wait! Isn’t exercise supposed to make your immune system stronger and make you more resilient to stress?

Not necessarily.

In one recent study, researchers investigated the connection between life stress and resistance training gains by putting weightlifters with varying levels of stress in their personal lives through a weight training routine and monitoring their progress.

The final results showed that the low stress participants experienced a significantly greater increase in bench press and squat than their high stress counterparts. So it seems that high life stress may lower your ability to adapt to weight training!

But it gets more concerning.

second study looked into the connection between life-event stress, cortisol, and exercise recovery from hard workouts. The results showed that the higher the stress, the higher the cortisol and the longer the recovery.

So your take-away message is this: You shouldn’t be doing hard exercise while in a stressed state, whether that stress is coming from calorie restriction, a nutrient deficiency, relationship issues, a hectic job, or anything else that you find stressful. Instead, you should try to use relaxation techniques, stick to easy aerobic walks, yoga, and some light movement if you are stressed. Once you’ve handled the stress, jump back into the more difficult parts of your exercise program.

Do you have more questions or comments about when to avoid exercise? Leave your thoughts over at Facebook.com/GetFitGuy.

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