Christmas is a time to enjoy yourself, but sometimes the balance between merriment and health goes out of the window. We’re here to help – follow these tips to minimise the negative effects of the festive season without having to say no to every party invite or glass of Prosecco.
1. Make a plan
During the busy Christmas period, sticking to your regular exercise regime can be difficult. To avoid completely neglecting your training, plan ahead and schedule exercise sessions around your social engagements to ensure they actually happen. Staying active now will help you feel like your strong, healthy self come January.
2. Have a plan B
If your gym is closed or your normal classes aren’t running, have a circuit of simple exercise routines you can follow at home to keep your fitness ticking over during the holidays. Or try this quick HIIT session.
3. Make it a group event
Get family, friends and even colleagues involved in exercising to make it fun, sociable and inclusive. You could arrange a lunchtime run around the park with co-workers (and catch up on all the office goss at the same time!), plan a family bike ride in the country, or even rally everyone to get off the sofa for some fresh air and a walk after dinner.
4. Get the right gear
If you’re exercising outside in dark, wintry weather, make sure you have the appropriate gear both for your safety and comfort. Get technical pieces like hats, gloves and jackets that keep you warm but also allow your skin to breath, as they’ll help keep you comfortable so you don’t dread outdoor workouts. And remember to have high-vis or reflective elements to stay visible to passing cars. If it’s icy outside, don't take unnecessary risks – it’s better to wait until the weather improves or find an alternative way of exercising indoors.
5. Watch your steps
Try not to let the fact that it’s Christmas make you think you should be completely inactive and sedentary. A great goal is to try to get 10,000 steps in every day. Download an app for your phone and get competitive with friends and family about who’s taken more steps.
6. Embrace the extra sleep
A restful holiday period can actually benefit your training because you’re likely relaxing, resting and recovering more than usual thanks to less work stress and better quality sleep. This restores energy and renews your motivation to train, so embrace this more peaceful time.
7. Be picky about when you drink
Higher levels of alcohol are often consumed during the festive season, so try to limit your drinking to planned parties, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, always ensuring you have alcohol-free days in between. When you do drink, it’s even more important than usual to stay hydrated. Try to match every alcoholic drink with a glass of water.
8. Bookend indulgent meals with healthier ones
Plan to eat and drink healthily between social engagements to balance out the negative effects of the indulgent Christmas foods.
9. Make mindful food and drink choices
There are so many traditional Christmas foods that are nutritious and healthy, such as turkey, Brussels sprouts, red cabbage, dark leafy greens and nuts. Fill your plate up with these and stay away from too many roast potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce and mince pies. Save the good stuff for Christmas Day and try to eat healthily the rest of the time.
10. Take a moment to set new goals
Use any down time during the Christmas break to consider your training goals and exercise and nutrition resolutions. If you struggle with motivation, sign up for an event in January or February to help keep you accountable. This should help you to start the New Year with a renewed motivation and a fresh focus.