The Christmas season is a great time to relax with friends and family and reset for the year ahead. However, the combination of cold weather, darker days and a never-ending stream of social events (traditionally revolving around excessive eating and drinking), make it all-too-easy to forget about exercise and a healthy diet and indulge in all of the season’s delights. Exercise is often relegated to the start of the year, when we promise ourselves that we’ll get back on track and achieve all of our fitness and health goals.
While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with relaxing over Christmas, enjoying your favourite meals and taking a break from normal routine, avoiding exercise can leave you feeling dull, lethargic, unmotivated and unhealthy by the time January rolls around – making it ever harder to get back on the wagon.
Why is continuing to exercise over Christmas so important?
While it’s often unfeasible to stick to your normal exercise routine over Christmas (and totally healthy to take a break!), it’s important that you continue to move your body in small ways every day. If you face time or financial pressures, something as simple as a walk around the park or a quick at-home HIIT workout can make all the difference.
Christmas can be a very stressful time of year and exercise can help in multiple ways:
- It will give you more energy. If you’re feeling lethargic or drained, exercise can help to increase energy levels, reduce stress and relieve tension.
- It will help boost your immune system and ensure your body is in the best position to fight off any winter illnesses.
- It increases serotonin, the happy hormone, and can help your mental health over a stressful period. It will help to keep the winter blues at bay.
- It can help you feel in control. Christmas throws our normal routine out of whack often leaving us feeling overwhelmed and out of control. Making the decision to work out and be mindful during a season of indulgence can be empowering.
How to prioritise moving your body over Christmas
With so many social plans and things to organise, it can feel tricky finding the time or energy to exercise.
Some ways to ensure you get it done include:
- Make plans with friends – you’re less likely to cancel if you’ve made a commitment to another person. You could do an exercise class, a jog around the park, or just walk on your lunch break.
- Do an at-home workout – if you can’t make your regular exercise class or gym, try using that spare 20 minutes to do a quick workout at home. There are plenty of apps and videos online to help you.
- Go for a brisk walk during your lunch break.
Avoiding the New Year’s pitfall
The decision to overindulge during the holidays and start from scratch in January is often a recipe for disaster.
The physical consequences: After a month of increased calorie intake, an excess of sugar and alcohol, and minimal exercise, the strict and sudden restrictions of January can place massive stress on our bodies.
Our bodies thrive on stability with our hormone, digestive, respiratory and muscle systems all working together to retain balance. When we overload and strain our systems with sugar, fat and alcohol and then pull a full 360 on January 1st, we send our body into chaos. Add intense exercise into the mix after weeks of doing almost nothing and you’ll find yourself ill, very quickly.
The mental consequences: The belief that we can radically change our lifestyle and habits on January 1st simply down to the date and the start of a new year is a recipe for disaster. In setting goals built around social pressures and expectations, we set ourselves up for failure. Pursuing a goal based on a date rather than on your readiness or personal motivation makes it highly unlikely that you’ll stick to your programme.
You don’t need to wait for the new year to go for a run or go to the gym, it’s about creating habits and building a sustainable routine that works for you.
Stay active over the Christmas season at your nearest David Lloyd Club.