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HIIT the winter blues

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Winter’s tough. We know! But you know what’s tougher? A determined athlete powering their way through an explosive high intensity workout. HIIT (high intensity interval training) has been proven to have a positive effect on our mood and wellbeing, so if you’re someone who suffers from an annual case of the winter blues, it could be the cure you’ve been searching for. How does it work? Not without you breaking a sweat first, that’s for sure. Read on to find out more.

It’s hot, sweaty, intense and sure to get your pulse going, but will it boost your mood too?

Without a doubt we can say that, yes, it does. Recently, a study looked at the effects of HIIT training on a protein called BDNF: brain-derived neurotrophic factor, responsible for brain-cell repair and survival, cognitive functions and especially mood regulation. Further studies showed that low levels of BDNF are associated with mental disorders such as depression. When we perform HIIT training, a scientific process happens within the body, causing our levels of BDNF to rise. This rise in BDNF is what’s responsible for a better mood and feeling of happiness.

How much HIIT do we need?

Scientists say that exercising three to five times a week for 30-60 minutes (each session) has great effects on mood regulation, especially for people suffering from depression or similar mental disorders. Does any kind of exercise do the job? Be it running, bodyweight training or weight lifting – as long as you keep the intensity high, it is likely to have the same positive effect on your mood and boost your mental wellbeing.

When we say “high intensity” what do we mean?

When we speak about intensity, it all comes down to your heart beat per minute (bpm) during the training session. In high intensity training sessions you should reach up to 85% of your maximum bpm. How to calculate your bpm? Simply take the number 220 and minus your age. This serves as your maximum bpm. For example, a 35 year old’s maximum bpm would be 185 bpm – and 85% is therefore around 157bpm. During training, you can measure your heart rate by looking onto a clock for 10 seconds and simultaneously counting your heart beat on the inside of your wrist. Then, taking this number, multiply it by six to get your current bpm.

HIIT training with Freeletics

If you’re looking for some high intensity interval training to overcome the winter blues, Freeletics is perfect for you. From running intervals to bodyweight training and weightlifting – the intensity will be high. Don’t let the darkness, yours or other people’s bad mood prevent you from training. Taking the first step onto any training ground is always hard, but after a few minutes you’ll already feel a million times better. And as for the post-workout endorphin rush that comes afterwards, it’s much more powerful than the winter blues!