By David Saunders, Health Editor | UPDATED: 08:28, 26 June 2020
Would you be surprised to hear that the later months of the year are in fact where keeping fit pays the most benefit? As the days get shorter, our internal body clocks can end up all over the place, without us knowing – but we definitely feel it.
Here is why it’s ever more important to keep up your training in winter, and how to go about getting it in; from Firstbeat, the advanced performance analytics company behind over 1,000 professional sports teams worldwide.
Data from Firstbeat, leaders in advanced performance analytics, explain that fitter people recover better during their sleep and throughout the day – and as we head towards the party season, where people rest less – this is even more important.
Experts from Firstbeat share their tips on how to keep a fitness routine going long into winter to ensure sufficient recovery.
“Our data shows that the fitter you are, the more potential there is to recover effectively. This is especially important during the winter months, where we see the lowest recovery throughout the whole year”, says Tiina Hoffman, Exercise Physiologist and Master Trainer at Firstbeat.
“This is probably due to increased alcohol consumption, late nights and a reduction in exercise as more people go out and socialise as it gets closer to Christmas. Whilst alcohol affects everyone no matter their level of fitness, and we wouldn’t recommend a big workout after a heavy night, we want to give our bodies the best chance of being able to repair, recover and restore when possible.
Keeping fit is one way to do this, helping you on your way to finding that balance of going out and still feeling like a fully functioning human at your desk each day. Our data shows the fitter you are, the better you feel, sleep and recover, and the better you can deal with stress.”
Lunch time workouts
If you don’t consider yourself an early riser and the dark evenings make you just want to head home to bed, look to capitalise on your lunch hour by hitting the gym or going for a quick run or walk around the block. The spike of endorphins will improve your mental state in the afternoon by helping you feel energised. What’s more, by the time you’re finally home from work, those same hormones will have been released and your heart rate will have slowed, meaning you’re more likely to move into a recovery state once you hit the pillow.
HIIT it up!
Remember workouts don’t always need to last 60 minutes. Reduce the time that you’re at the gym by incorporating high intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts into your routine. HIIT is brilliant for fat burning and building muscle and doesn’t need to take up any more than 20 minutes of your time.
You don’t have to beast every single day to get fitter. Most people can actually receive a positive training effect simply from brisk walking. Plus, with our ever hectic lives, sometimes what your body really needs is to chill out and relax. Consider taking a short walk outside instead, capitalising on the daylight hours and getting in some Vitamin D. You’ll find the fresh air helps to clear the mind, loosen the body and de-stress. All important factors for sleep recovery in their own right!
Workout in the comfort of your own home
There are multiple fitness workout apps, subscriptions platforms or online streaming services available nowadays, so make the most of them. Clear an area either in your front room, turn up the music and get your workout done without having to leave the house. Added bonus – you’ll save time and cost on travel and gym memberships!
Mix it up
Exercising doesn’t have to mean going to the gym… you can increase your fitness level all sorts of ways – from playing 5-a-side football with your mates to always taking the stairs rather than the lift at work. Every little helps, so find a routine that works best for you and mix it up to keep motivation high. One excellent option is to plan longer, more intense workouts for days when you don’t have work, like the weekend. That way, you can choose a time of day which requires less motivation to find a ‘get up and go’ attitude. On those harder days, you can opt for something a little simpler.