You should not work out immediately after getting a tattoo. You must give your skin time to heal before resuming most physical exercises.

Keep reading to learn why it’s a good idea to hold off on exercise after getting a tattoo and how long you should wait.

There are a number of reasons to put a hold on your workout routine after getting a tattoo.

Open wound

The tattooing process involves breaking the skin with hundreds of tiny puncture wounds. Essentially, it’s an open wound.

One of the ways that germs enter your body is through open skin. Gym equipment can harbor harmful bacteria.

Stretching and sweating

When you work out, your muscles stretch your skin and you sweat. Pulling the skin and excessively sweating in the area of your tattoo can interrupt the healing process.


The rubbing of clothing or equipment against a recently tattooed area can irritate the skin, rub off scabs, and interfere with proper healing.

After finishing your tattoo, your tattoo artist will most likely suggest that you wait at least 48 hours before strenuous physical activity and heavy sweating.

The important words are “at least.” It generally takes 4 to 6 weeks for a wound to heal.

Along with allowing time to heal, take into consideration the size and location of your new tattoo when deciding when to work out again and what exercises to do.

Before committing to a specific exercise, try a relaxed walk. Note whether the movement tugs or pulls at your tattoo. If it does, take it out of your workout.

Consider exercises that don’t involve the newly tattooed area. For example, core or arm work may be fine if your tattoo is on your lower body. Squats and lunges may be OK if your tattoo is on your upper body.

In some cases, it may be difficult to find exercises that can be done with new large tattoos, such as a full back piece.

Keep in mind these precautions as your tattoo heals.

Don’t work out outdoors

Stay out of the sun. Not only is the skin around your new tattoo extraordinarily sensitive, but sunlight has been known to fade or bleach tattoos.

Most tattooists will recommend keeping your new tattoo out of the sun for at least 4 weeks.

Don’t swim

Most tattooists will suggest you avoid swimming for at least 2 weeks. Soaking your new tattoo before it has healed can break down the ink.

Swimming in chemically treated pools can result in infection and irritation. Swimming in lakes, oceans, and other natural bodies of water can expose the open skin of your new tattoo to harmful bacteria.

While a tattoo is a piece of art, it’s also a procedure that results in open skin. When the skin is open, you’re vulnerable to infection.

A new tattoo may need 4 to 6 weeks to heal to the point that a workout will not interrupt the proper healing of your skin. Also take care to not:

  • expose your tattoo to bacteria (which may be on surface areas in the gym)
  • overstretch your tattoo or chafe it with clothing
  • expose your tattoo to sunlight

Not taking proper care of your new tattoo can result in delayed healing and potentially damage the long-term look of it.