Staying fit over the festive season

Even the most dedicated fitness fans can let their exercise regimes slip over Christmas and New Year. But if you don’t want to dread the thought of getting back to your fitness plans in January, there are ways of staying active over the holidays that don’t have to spoil any of your festive fun.

Staying active during the Christmas break has many advantages, after all. Even if you don’t stick to your usual routine, any amount of activity can help offset the effects of eating, drinking and generally being a lot more merry than usual. So here are some ideas to help you stay on track with your exercise goals instead of turning into a festive roasted couch potato

1. Get out and about whenever you can – Staying indoors may seem inviting, especially at this time of year when it’s cold and dark outside. But try to take any opportunity to get out of the house, because when you’re outside, it’ll probably be too cold to sit around. You could even get your family involved: if you have children they may have had new bicycles or scooters for Christmas, so wrap them up warm and take them to the park for a quick ride-around and run alongside them for 10 – 20 minutes.

If it’s a white Christmas, a back-garden snowball fight will help burn off a good number of festive calories too. Or plan festive activities such as a trip to the nearest outdoor ice skating rink to keep the entire family entertained, and organise fitness-related catch-ups with friends – try a yoga class or a brisk walk around your local shopping centre before you all head off to the nearest coffee shop, for instance.

2. Set yourself a goal – Christmas isn’t exactly the most motivating time when it comes to staying fit, so plan a challenge in January or February to make sure you keep up with some degree of training over Christmas and New Year – a charity walk or run, for example. That way you’ll be less tempted to take a complete break from your fitness routine. Alternatively, set a smaller goal for yourself over the festive period – to do 10 more sit-ups, or to swim two extra lengths of the pool. Setting goals, even small ones, is a great way of keeping your momentum up.

3. Be realistic – Even fitness professionals have some time off over Christmas, so don’t beat yourself up if you fall short of your usual work-outs. Worrying about missing the gym could just make you feel even more demoralised. Plan shorter sessions if that helps – even 15 minutes of activity is better than nothing (many experts think shorter but higher-intensity work-outs are more effective at keeping you fit than spending hours at a time at the gym anyway).

4. Rise with the lark – If you find it difficult to get away for a work-out session when your friends and family are around, try getting up half an hour before everyone else and do your exercises while they’re still asleep. The thought of having to get up a little earlier may stop you overindulging on food and drink the night before too. Working out early in the morning could also put your body in fat-burning mode for the rest of the day.

5. Put on some music – Even with the best intentions you could end up feeling it’s you who’s been stuffed rather than the turkey after a big meal. When that happens you probably won’t feel like looking for your trainers, let alone putting them on. But playing some music can change your mood for the better. Exercising to music doesn’t just make you feel more like moving, it can take your mind off the fact that you’re actually working out. So make sure your music player is fully charged and get those headphones on.

Most importantly, if you’re heading outdoors for some exercise in the fresh air, it’s important to keep yourself warm. Wear several light layers of clothing as this tends to keep you warmer than wearing one thick layer. And if it’s really cold outside, put your jacket on the radiator for 10 minutes before you leave the house. Since you lose a lot of body heat through your head, it’s a good idea to wear a warm hat too.

If you have an existing medical condition, if you’re older or if you haven’t been very active lately, always speak to your GP before starting any new type of exercise. Your local Careway pharmacist can also give you lots of tips on staying active during the cold weather.

Find your nearest Careway pharmacy by using our Pharmacy Finder.