How to Keep it Healthy Over the Festive Season
Christmas and New Years are many things – a time to get together with family and friends, to say goodbye to the old, and to greet the new. One thing which the season isn’t known for, though, is healthy living and peak physical fitness.
It can be hard enough even to find a gym that’s open over the festive season, never mind to justify the time spent training while the season’s festivities beckon from all around. But surely, you may be thinking, is it possible to both enjoy the Yuletide cheer while also taking steps to keep fit and healthy?
Sure it is. Here are some tips for doing just that.
Do some micro, high-intensity workouts
A good gym session can take anywhere between 1-2 hours, and that’s not even factoring in the time taken to prepare yourself, drive down to the gym, come home, and shower. If you try to keep your normal training routine intact with absolutely no alterations over Christmas and New Year’s, you’re going to miss out on some of the good times.
Luckily, there’s a simple solution: temporarily switch out your normal workout for a rapid-fire, high-intensity session instead. High-intensity training (HIT) has been scientifically shown to not only boost resting energy expenditure (meaning you’ll have less to fear from that extra biscuit or mince pie) but also to promote significant increases in strength.
The best part? You can do an effective HIIT session in as little as 15-20 minutes. The key is in using supersets (going straight from one set of one exercise, to one set of another, and repeating in a circuit without any breaks) and carrying out all your exercises in an explosive fashion.
To further simplify the workout – opt to stay at home and focus on bodyweight training rather than going on a pilgrimage to the nearest power rack. Even if you can churn out standard pushups and bodyweight squats by the score, you can always increase the difficulty by working on more advanced progressions of the exercises, like pistol squats and lever, or one-arm, pushups.
Stick to fruity snacks rather than sweets
Now, no-one’s saying you shouldn’t indulge in a couple of traditional Christmas treats here and there but there’s no need to give yourself a complete free pass on anything that looks tasty. Save the decadent treats for Christmas day itself, and for the rest of the time, try and focus on creating healthy festive alternatives that you can enjoy guilt-free.
For example, mashed banana mixed with Greek yoghurt, seasoned with Christmas-appropriate spices (nutmeg and cinnamon, for starters) and then left in the fridge for a few hours to chill allows you to indulge your taste buds without exceeding your daily recommended sugar intake by 10,000%.
Do some festive physical activities
The festive season is the time for bonding with family and friends, but there’s no reason that all of that bonding has to take place in your living room with copious amounts of mulled wine. While it’s unlikely that you’ll convince your relatives to join in on an intense squat session, why not take advantage of some of the unique opportunities provided by the season to get out and about?
Head down to one of the many ice rinks popping up everywhere and see who in your group can stay on their feet for the longest. Head into town to visit some interesting Christmas market stalls, and do it all on foot. If snow happens to settle, go tobogganing.
You’re only really limited by your creativity here. The key point is that there’s a whole lot of Christmas cheer to enjoy that involves getting your heart rate up a bit.