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Rather than feeling guilty about a fitness schedule de-load over the festive season, here’s how taking a breather can be beneficial to your goals. Angelique Tagaroulias writes.

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The good news is that toning down your training during the festive season can actually benefit – rather than diminish – your health, says nutritionist, trainer and founder of Balance Fitness and Nutrition Brooke Turner; but this depends on the duration of your sabbatical, along with your activity levels and nutrition. For example, someone who trains six days per week taking a six month break is different to slowing it down for a couple of weeks over Christmas. Plus, your ability to retain muscle mass and cardio fitness differs from person to person and depends on how hard you’ve been training.

Generally, between one to three weeks’ break is okay – although tapering, rather than halting, movement is recommended.

“Tapering refers to the reduction of exercise before a competition or race, believed to be essential for best performance. Taper periods can range from one to three weeks – about the timeframe that you would want to increase your training so you don’t lose excessive strength and fitness,” says Turner.

“All of life’s stressors, including the stress generated from exercise and inadequate rest, compound. Tapering your training for a period of time can have beneficial effects on your hormones, mindset, recovery and reaching your goals.”

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