Active Health
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Fill up with Festive Fitness … or not!

We’re about to launch head first into the holiday season. A time for enjoying ourselves, socialising and no doubt filling up on a fair amount of food and drink. Late nights and over indulgence, with a good chance of inclement weather, means it’s not always easy to find the motivation to get out and do some exercise.

You might be the kind of person who just isn’t bothered about exercise over Christmas. You know what, that’s fine! We all need a break every now and then; time to relax and recuperate and remove pressure. There’s no need to feel guilty; have a couple of weeks off and enjoy yourself. In reality you aren’t going to lose much fitness. There’s plenty of opportunity to get back on track in the New Year.

What I’ve discovered however, is that I much prefer to keep active over the holiday time. Yes, I’ll eat and drink and spend a good bit of time on the sofa watching tacky Christmas films with the family but if I can keep up my exercise then I genuinely feel so much better for it. I feel less sluggish, more energised and more able to relax and enjoy myself.

Here are some of my tips for filling up with festive fitness:

  • Go early. Get up, throw on your kit and do it. Don’t over think it or leave it until later because it’s much less likely to happen. Whether it’s a cycle, swim, run or walk, an early session before everyone else has stirred will totally set you up for the day. Make it a private time to escape the chaos and demands. Time just for you. Perhaps you could just do with time away from the visitors or maybe you just want a chance to think about the year that’s ending and make plans for the one to come. See it as your own indulgence of a different type.

  • Involve the family. There are so many ways to include everyone and have fun together. We’re heading to parkrun on Christmas Day – we did this last year and it was a resounding success. Dressed in Christmas jumpers and hats (even the dog) it got us up and out in the fresh air and it was so much fun being with the other park runners. Check here to find your Christmas parkrun hosts. There’s sure to be a Santa Dash, Pudding Run or similar near you. How about a Christmas Day or New Year swim in the sea? There are lots of these about, if you’re brave enough and you’ll make some great memories!

  • Bring it indoors. You can get a good work out without even stepping outside the front door. This is particularly handy when the weather is awful or you’ve got small children. We’ve set up the turbo in the corner of a room – it’s so convenient that there’s really no excuse not to hop on for a bit and I can even see the TV from there. The lounge is looking a bit like a gym at the moment with an exercise mat, swiss ball and hand weights as pretty permanent features.  Not very ‘Homes and Gardens’ but I live in the real world! There’s endless YouTube exercise classes you can join or dig out a fitness DVD – I love Nell McAndrew’s Peak Energy Recharged
  • Keep it simple. You don’t need to pre-arrange anything or spend money. Just get out for a walk. The health benefits of walking, both physical and mental, are huge. Don that Christmas jumper and exchange some season’s greetings with those you meet. Download the Active 10 app to your phone, it will track how many of your minutes of exercise are of ‘moderate intensity’ – that’s the effort level you need to get the maximum health benefits from your walking. It also gives you a reminder and a boost to keep you active regularly over the holiday time.

Active 10 Screen 2

  • Change your focus. Make your festive fitness all about fun rather than serious training. Too much to drink the night before? Over eaten? Just take it down a peg or two. Ditch the sports watch and just enjoy your exercise without the pressure of analysing your performance afterwards. Make it sociable, invite friends or use the exercise to go and visit them instead. Something is always better than nothing. Try something new, have a laugh – ’tis the season to be jolly after all!

I’d love to hear your fitness plans for the holidays? Are you going to be feet up or trainers on? Leave a comment below.

Featured image – Gratisography

This entry was posted in: Active Health


I'm a former GP, mum of three, runner and health writer. My award winning book 'Sorted: The Active Woman's Guide to Health' is available now and published by Bloomsbury Sport. I'm the resident Health Expert for Women's Running UK, the Women's Health Lead and Master Coach for 261Fearless and Director of 261 Fearless Club UK. On a mission to get the world moving more!


  1. Janine says

    Love this! We have dogs do the family gets out for some fresh air and exercise. I like to do more so often grab a dog and whizz our to return & fund housework done! Result! Like the suggestion of mini gym in house so will do that on our busier mad days. Thank you for some great festive tips!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am also firmly in the do fitness, otherwise I get too lethargic and grumpy. 😉 On New Year’s Eve I always do a 10k which blows the cobwebs away and gives me a bit of a buzz. I also like the feeling of smugness I get when I am out running whilst everyone else is inside. 😊

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sinead Bradbeer says

    I need to run or do something energetic every day! I’m lucky in that I don’t have a TV and I actively dislike most Christmas foo!. A quiet Christmas this year is going to be an opportunity to explore some new run routes and play with my new bit of exercise kit- a Bosu ball. It’s got to be the best bit of home gym kit out there!

    Liked by 1 person

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