So, you’re clocking up the miles on your weekend run or bike ride, and making light work of those goals at the gym – but did you know what you do in-between workouts is also really important, and could make a big difference in terms of the results you see? We have five expert tips on how to improve your workout outside of the gym.

“Exercising two to three times a week is great, but if you’re one of the millions of people who spend eight hours a day sitting at a desk Monday to Friday, then proportionally, you are more sedentary than active – and this may have an impact on the results you are looking for,” says Andy Magill, head vitality coach at VitalityHealth.

“However, there are a number of easy steps you can take to get the most out of your fitness efforts,” he adds – and no, thankfully they don’t involve tons of spare time, money and even effort.

How to improve your workout
These day-to-day steps will all add up (Thinkstock/PA)

5 tips on how to improve your workout outside the gym

1. Make small incremental changes to your daily routine

“If you spend a lot of your time at work sitting down, you’re not alone, but it’s important to incorporate small changes where you can. Walking up the stairs rather than taking the lift, or going for a walk at lunchtime, are just a couple of simple ways to help keep your metabolism and fitness levels up and maximise results.

“It’s important to note that being sedentary for too long day-to-day can lead to health problems, such as increased blood pressure, heightened stress, and even type 2 diabetes.”

How to improve your workout
Ditch diets, embrace balance (Thinkstock/PA)

2. Eat right to fuel your body

“Nutrition is an essential part of training and eating the right foods will fuel your body. As well as building and repairing muscle, foods rich in protein will also increase your concentration levels – great for a long day at the office.

“However, if your day is spent mostly on your feet, opt for more carbohydrates to keep your energy levels up. Lean foods such as chicken or turkey, essential amino acids, and the right carbs and vitamins will help you make the most of your training and provide the best results.”

3. Treat your day-to-day as you would a fitness session

“If you have your set routine before and after a session, apply this to your daily life too. Whether it’s a banana or shake before, or protein and complex carbs after, follow a similar format on your rest days to keep your body focused and results on-track.”

How to improve your workout
Resting = essential (Thinkstock/PA)

4. Have a rest day

“Most of us are unaware of the importance that having a rest day has in obtaining maximum performance and results from hours spent in the gym, running or playing sport.

“Rest can make you stronger, as it allows the muscles you have broken down to heal and recover. The body needs time to regenerate, so opt for at least one rest day each week as a minimum.”

How to improve your workout
Sleep is your friend (Thinkstock/PA)

5. Try to get enough sleep

Another important way to improve your workout is sleep. “Ensuring you get enough sleep each night is essential. People who sleep less than [seven to eight hours a night] lose nearly four additional days of productive time each year, which can be traced directly back to their lack of sleep. Aiming for seven to eight hours each night will leave you feeling refreshed, less stressed and ready for the day ahead.”

Try a few tips like turning off screens an hour before bed, keeping your room quiet, or using an eye mask to block out extra light. We like this Mavogel fitted eye mask made of cotton for a better night’s sleep, available on Amazon.

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