'Shocked:' People Debate Hitting the Gym While Signed off Sick From Work

A Mumsnet post about a husband who thinks it is "hugely unreasonable" for his partner to go to the gym while off sick has sparked an intense online debate.

"DH [darling husband] thinks this is hugely unreasonable and is shocked I even suggested it … surely it isn't?," a user, who goes by the name of hunge, said about the reaction to her idea of going to the gym while signed off work.

"I'm signed off with a physical injury but people at work don't know that", the user said, going on to explain that "It is a bad back but the gym is the best place for that! Swimming is brilliant, heat helps (sauna/steam room) gentle movement and exercises...the absolute worst thing you can ever do with a bad back is not to move. But if people don't realise this maybe DH is right?"

The post, which has had over 120 comments since it was posted early on Thursday morning, has garnered a variety of takes on the situation, with many saying it depends on the reason for your sick leave, whether for physical or mental health reasons.

One user going by the name of Thestoppedfan writes: "It depends what you are signed off for. If it's mental health then I would say it's fine but if you're signed off for a bad back then probably not." Scottishflower65 disagreed, typing, "Absolutely not! It helps both physical and mental health so part of a cure for many reasons why you would be off sick."

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A woman holds her back in pain at home in this stock image.

A study published in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy in June which aimed to determine which exercise, not if exercise, is best for reducing chronic back pain in adults, found that most exercise had benefits for managing pain and disability from chronic back pain. The study concluded that the most beneficial exercise regimes consisted of at least one to two sessions a week of Pilates or strength exercises, 60 minutes of core or strength exercises or a combination of the two.

Despite this quite clear medical endorsement, opinions were still divided with user RedCarsGoFaster criticizing, "If you've told your work you hurt your back last night, going to the gym today is taking the piss [poking fun]. If you've broken your leg, going to the gym is stupid. If you've had the cast off and are trying to regain your strength, going to the gym is sensible. It's all about context."

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Stock photo of an older man in a yoga class

Many users have commented on the frustration they feel when their bosses act as though they are dodging work when they don't believe that they are. User Desmondo2021 expressed this feeling in the response, "I hate the general inbuilt assumption is that people are pulling sickies. I love my job and would rather be at work than off sick so if I was not well enough to be at work but well enough to go to somewhere else then I'd do it without giving it a second thought. So yes, context is key here."

Another user FishcakesWithTooMuchCoriander agreed saying, "It's part of getting well enough to get back to work. Ignorance and weird petty jealousies (because a bad back is so aspirational) shouldn't mean you stay at home and let it get worse. No need to jump through hoops to justify it. If anyone did question it, your GP would simply confirm that exercise is a key part of your treatment. No need for any angst."