As Christmas approaches and we reflect on this nightmarish 2020, there’s at least one good thing to have come out of the year of COVID: we all have a renewed appreciation for the role that health and fitness plays in our lives, not only keeping our bodies sound, but our minds, too.
Naturally, we all want to get a head start on the festivities and enjoy a little early indulgence, but there are lots of ways to balance the Christmas feasting and keep yourself on track, even if you can’t get to the gym.
We spoke to Steven Virtue, Fitness Content and Programming Manager at Total Fitness, the North’s leading mid-market health club, who shared his top tips so you can stay in shape over the festive period.
Christmas is often thought of as the time for lounging around the house and enjoying a well-earned rest. But general activities like putting up decorations, baking festive treats and deep cleaning before the mother-in-law arrives is an easy way to keep burning calories. Studies estimate that around 10-15% of our total daily energy expenditure happens through NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) which is those absentminded movements in your daily life that don’t feel like exercise.
Little And Often
Of course, planned exercise contributes to fat loss, but it can be hard to find time amongst preparations and entertaining family. Can’t commit to a full hour workout? No problem! Your body can achieve a great deal in as little as 10 minutes. As gyms have been shut, tons of new workout content is available online that you can do at home. If you only have a short window for exercise, make it count with a HIIT session.
Drink Plenty Of Water
What would the party season be without a festive tipple or two? Don’t deny yourself the glass of bubbly or the classic mulled wine, but remember to keep up your water intake. Drinking lots of water boosts metabolism, helping you digest the festive treats faster and more efficiently.
Balance Your Plate
Portion control is a gift this time of year. Don’t say no to the Christmas pudding, instead have a smaller portion and fill up on protein before dessert. Protein is highly satiating, helping you feel fuller for longer and is great for growing muscle, too! Include plenty of vitamins and nutrients in your festive meals by loading up on leafy greens like brussels sprouts, cabbage and other wintery veg. The nutrients will give you a festive glow and help replenish your energy levels.
Take Christmas Walks
A leisurely winter walk is a great way to gently increase your heart rate whilst enjoying the company of loved ones. Throw on a warm coat and get your family out for some fresh air or buddy up with a friend for a regular morning walk to kick start your metabolism for the day. Walking in colder temperatures is especially effective for burning calories, as our bodies work harder to regulate our core body temperature – bonus!