Making Time

Excuses have long sabotaged the good intentions of diehards committed to New Year’s fitness resolutions. But what should you do after a night of overindulging, or when a big lunch makes you feel like you’re only up for lifting the TV remote? Before you hit pause on your workout plans, we checked in with pros on when—and if—it’s okay to skip the gym when you’re feeling sluggish. (Spoiler alert: No skip passes were handed out.)

The Action Plan
While you may want to opt out of a session at the local CrossFit, it doesn’t mean you should skip your workout entirely, says Bridget Philipp, senior director of healthy living at the New Canaan YMCA. “If you’ve done the damage already, I say it’s always better to do something, just some light cardio to get the blood flowing.” A walk, for example, is a great option.

Andrew Burlin, a trainer at Stamford’s Chelsea Piers Athletic Club, notes that while you may not be at your best for a pounding workout, an indulgent midday meal provides extra energy to burn off at the end of the day. He suggests cycling or weight lifting to burn off some of those extra calories.

It’s All About Timing:
To avoid disrupting digestion, make sure you time your workout to at least two hours after the meal.

The Action Plan
Start by hydrating and then “get on your workout clothes and step out the door,” says Philipp. “The endorphins from just starting to move may make you feel better.”

Listen to Your Body:
“If you are five minutes in and you realize it’s the wrong idea, head back home, but you can’t throw in the towel on your routine because you missed one day,” says Philipp. So get back at it tomorrow.


The Action Plan
As tempting as it is to forego your morning run or Barre class and head straight to the office instead, it may actually help you stay on task if you commit to a workout, says Burlin. “A well-formulated workout will get you cognitively in the right place to make substantial progress on your work.” If you are seriously time-crunched, Burlin suggests a quick twenty- to thirty-minute interval training workout. Try lifting weights combined with plyometric or power movements (think squats, jumps or burpees). “You will come back fresher, more energized and less stressed.”

Take a Pass:
Skip a traditional sixty-minute group exercise class. “You’ll just be looking at the clock the whole time, thinking about your project,” says Burlin.

A Matter of When
In terms of exercise science, morning workouts seem to have the edge in the clinical research pool for their ability to rev up the metabolism. Ultimately, you’ll burn more calories throughout the day.

Still, fitness experts say the best time to work out is when you can consistently make the time to do it. “The majority of us struggle to be consistent,” says Philipp, “so I always encourage people to find the time when they are most likely to do it.”

“If you are pressed for time on a regular basis, I suggest morning,” says Burlin. “As you lie in bed pressing the snooze bar, think about how an extra thirty minutes of sleep will not make you feel any more rested, but thirty minutes at the gym will set your mind up to feel accomplished and make great choices throughout the day.”

Take a Pass:
On a high-intensity workout too close to bedtime. “If you really rev yourself up too much, it can interfere with sleep,” says Philipp.