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It's okay to take a break from exercise

Yes, you read that correctly - straight from the horse’s mouth.

Before I elaborate, I should put out a disclaimer that this is not meant to be used as an excuse to do nothing. I also don’t mean to sound contradictory, but hear me out.

All of us are most likely facing some sort of personal and/or societal stress right now, and we are all dealing with it in different ways. As much as exercise can be cathartic and stress-relieving, it can also be interpreted by the body as another physical stressor… and your body does not discriminate stress. If you are already overwhelmed with physical or psychological tension, you could be potentially overloading your system. Going just slightly beyond your capacity in order to adapt and increase your capacity is good; going too far beyond your capacity is not. Find your balance and see what you need at that moment in time.

Maybe you need a break. Maybe you need stillness. Maybe you just need to take a few deep breaths. For as much work as we put out, we need an equal amount of input. In other words, we are only as good as our recovery. This can come in many forms, so I encourage you to find what form fits your needs best at the moment. This may vary day to day or even hour by hour, so it is imperative that we are doing “self checks” every so often.

We also may be finding that we are exposed to the media even more than before; everywhere you look there are programs here and exercises there. If you find yourself getting motivated by this, great - go do something. If you find yourself getting overwhelmed with guilt for not partaking in any of this, get yourself away from it. Everyone is allowed to deal with this on their own terms, judgment aside. Internally, your experience is not the same as anyone else’s.

If you find solace is working out everyday, that is great; avoid judging those who don’t. If you find solace in using this time to relax and be still, that is great; avoid judging those who don’t.

More than anything, this post is less about exercising and more about neither judging yourself or others around you. There is no right or wrong way of dealing with this. When this is over, we will have an incredible story to tell. Do what you need to do during this time and make your story authentically yours.

Stephanie Spoto, CSCS

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