How to keep fit over Christmas

It’s that time of year again when you are almost guaranteed to go home, see your parents and grandparents and consequently get plied with alcohol, chocolate, rich gravy, and every single roast vegetable your little heart could desire. Even the good sprouts come with bacon…

So for those of you that are planning on diving right in and fixing this on the other side, this post probably isn’t for you. For those of you who want some relatively light-hearted (and some serious-ish) fitness tips for the winter season, let's get started.

Fact: traditional fitness regimes are pretty much out of the window for a fortnight

With gyms being closed (because let's face it, everyone needs a few days off), the roads being icy or just downright unpleasant, and most people being away from their usual homes or having family over, your fitness regime is unlikely to be the same as the rest of the year. This being the case, 4 mornings in the gym per week plus a run isn’t going to be easy!

So, how do we go about making the best of the otherwise decadent period? We’re going to have to be a bit creative with both our diets and exercise regimes. Let’s address the exercise options first:

Suggestion 1: Make the most of the ‘family walk’

Almost every family together at Christmas ends up suggesting that everyone gets out on a walk to ‘burn off that [insert meal here]’. Whilst generally if you’re bringing Grandma along, it's not the fastest pace in the world, this shouldn’t stop you from making the most of the opportunity to get some extra calories burned. A couple of ways of maximising the value are:

Offer to carry the rucksack, the water or even Grandma. Adding extra weight will make you work harder, and consequently burn more calories; Consider a couple of different routes, which lead to the same place. If you have a few younger/fitter people in your party, why not make the most of a hillier route, then arrange to meet the others back at a sensible point before walking back home with them; or It might make you look a bit odd, but if you spend half your time on the walk lunging, you’ll definitely tone up and maximise your calorie burning prowess.

Suggestion 2: Help out around the house

You may have seen some of those classic posts of ‘housework burns 300 calories an hour’, which all seem a little over-hyped. However, there is some merit in what they’re talking about, and Christmas is the perfect time to take up housework to (a) gain credit with your hosts, and (b) get a little fitness boost on the side. Avoid the temptation to spend the whole of Christmas on a seat or in bed, and try out some of these worthwhile calorie burners and brownie point earners!:

Collecting all of the wrapping paper, bagging it up and taking the recycling out. While everyone else is lazing around playing with their new presents, take the opportunity to drop some squats, lift the chairs, sofa and even your siblings and collect that wrapping paper up, bag it all and get it in the recycling. Collect up the plates after a meal. If you stack them high enough, those plates are a great arm workout, not to mention all of the roasting dishes. If you want to really add in some forearm and tricep work, get stuck into cleaning those burnt on stains by hand with the scourer. Hoovering the house. With all of the biscuits, pastries, crackers and other crumbly items being consumed, hoover duty is very important. Lugging that hoover up and down the stairs, or between rooms is a full body workout, and pushing it under the sofa and tables really hits those triceps.

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