Polar data shows we exercise most in August, but this comes with dangers
According to Polar we train more in the summer with August the month when activity tends to peak. But there are dangers as many of us don’t understand the importance of proper training intensity.
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New global training data from Polar shows that warm summer months are the most popular time of the year for fitness. July and August is when activity shows a strong rise, with May and spring weather also motivating people to get off their sofas.
If we take January as the base month, the peak in training occurs in August with activity 6% higher than in January. In subsequent months this steadily declines to hit minus 9% in December.
The most popular activities are running (25%), walking (11%), cycling (10%), strength training (8%) and indoor workouts (8%). However, this is data for 2019. In 2020 we saw a spike in indoor exercise, particularly in March and April, so the data may be somewhat different. These were months when strict social distancing measures were put in place in many countries including the US, UK and much of Europe.
The data also shows that its good to mix things up. Why? Because those who incorporate three or more types of activities tend to stick to their workout habits longer. As the chart below shows, their likelihood of having an “occasional” (0-1 h/week) workout week drops to just 3%, compared to the 31% for those with 1-2 activities.
But there are dangers associated with all of this
As we are currently hitting peak months as far as training intensity, it’s good to be aware of the dangers that come with this. Polar data flags up some worrying trends.
It shows that many people do not understand the importance proper training intensity. This is particularly the case amongst beginners who tend to overdo it. They have the idea that more is always better.
Statistics show that Occasional and Regular trainers (up to 3 hours per week) spend more than 40% of their time in high-intensity heart rate zones. Needless to say, this can result in burnout and injury if they have not built up endurance in the lower zones. For comparison, Pros and Semi-Pros spend only around a quarter of their time in these zones.
This indicates a clear need for guidance for beginners. It also highlights the need to educate yourself on things such as heart rate zone training. The other part of this equation, rest, is just as important. If you’re not used to training in the heat it can effect the quality of your sleep. So pay particular attention to getting enough recovery time.
Other suggestions from Polar’s health and fitness experts for training in summer months include the following:
- Place high intensity workouts first thing in the morning or later in the evening when its coolest.
- Start gradually, particularly if you are a beginner and built up intensity over a couple of weeks. The summer heat places an extra toll on your body so you will likely work out at higher intensities with the same effort.
- Learn your baselines (heart rate zones, max heart rate, etc) in order to avoid overtraining.
- Make sure you are properly hydrated. A way to do this is to weigh yourself before and after training. This can help assess your rehydration needs afterwards.
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