Have yourself an active little Christmas

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The festive season is upon us, and that can only mean culinary overload, abandoned fitness regimes and hours semi-comatosed in front of the TV However with a little forward planning and a bit of self-discipline, it is perfectly possible to enjoy the season’s festivities without entering the New Year full of misgivings and guilt.

Staying active over Christmas not only reduces your chances of gaining weight, it also helps energise you, reduces stress and gives you a break.

If you can discipline yourself to begin the day with some form of exercise this will get you off to a good start before other commitments and crises get in the way – and it will kick-start your metabolism for the rest of the day. Perhaps you can be first up and go for a short power walk or you could even try some step ups on the bottom stair. (I like to do this during adverts on TV – it all adds up, especially if you put some energy behind it)


Outdoor exercise
Perhaps you could try to get everyone involved in something seasonal, like ice skating – many towns and Garden centres have temporary ricks at this time. Or how about a winter walk? The Ramblers’ Association Festival of Winter Walks has a programme of more than 300 walks nationwide between Boxing Day and 3 January, open to all and ranging in length and difficulty.


Indoor activities
If you can’t drag yourself outdoors, here are some indoor activities to consider. They are aimed primarily at children, but there’s no reason why we can’t let our inner child surface and have a go as well!
1. Headstands – Great for your core muscles and gets blood going to the brain.
2. Jump Rope – If you have downstairs neighbors who complain, go in the hall or right outside your building. To make it more fun, pick up a book of jump-rope rhymes.
3. Balloon Ball – There are endless ways to play with balloons indoors. Try to keep it off the ground or just play catch.
4. Wheelbarrow, Crab and Bear-walk Races – These tough positions mean you get a real workout.
5. Animal Races – Hop like a bunny or a frog, squat and waddle like a duck, etc.
6. Obstacle Course – Create a furniture course in your apartment or take chalk and make a course outside.
7. Follow the Leader – Add to the workout by doing energetic movements like jumping, stomping and squatting.
8. Dance Party – Turn on the music and shake it all about!
9. Freeze Dance (Musical statues) When the music stops, freeze in your pose and hold it until the music starts again.
10. Scavenger Hunt – Write up clues and hide them around the house. Kids can race to find each clue for a small prize at the end.
11. Jumping Jacks – Simple but good for coordination and they get your heart going. See if you can do 25 of them!
12. Silly Shakes –If you do it long enough, you’ll probably end up in a pile of giggles.
13. Bubble Wrap Attack – If you get bubble wrap in the mail, jump on it until it’s all popped.
14. Clean-Up Race – Set a timer or put on a song and see who can right the room the fastest.
15. Tickle Tag – Chase your children and when you catch them, it’s tickle time.
16. Temper Tantrum – Have a fit for the fun of it. Flail, stomp and scream.
17. Carnival – Set up carnival games like knock down the milk cans (we used Tupperware).
18. Hallway Bowling – Fill up plastic water bottles and use rolled up socks as balls.
19. Hopscotch – Use chalk or tape to make a game on your floor or outside your building.
20. Pillow Fight – No explanation needed.
21. Sock Skating – If you have hard floors, put on socks and skate around. See if you can do spins or hockey stops, or who can slide the farthest. Make sure to move the furniture and watch for splinters.
22. Bubble Bashing – Blow bubbles and let your child try to smash them.
23. Wrestling – Put down a mat, or play on a rug or bed. See if your kids can wrestle you to the ground.
24. Pushover Mum and Dad– Plant your feet and see if the kids can budge you. If you move your feet, they win. To make it easier for little kids, you can stand on one foot.
25. Popcorn Pushups – Put a small bowl of popcorn on the floor. Lower yourself down and stick out your tongue to get a piece of popcorn with each thrust.

When best to exercise
As far as timing is concerned, it’s better to be active after eating, rather than before.as this offsets the glycaemic effect of food, minimising blood sugar spikes and dips and reducing the likelihood of further snacking later on. Gentle after-dinner activity also helps to support digestion a lot more than nodding off in an armchair does.


Don’t procrastinate!
It‘s always tempting during the festive season to shelve health and fitness with the intention of undoing the damage in the New Year. But you surely know that it is far easier to put weight on than to take it off so a little self-discipline over the holidays will give you a great head start making your New Year goals far less daunting.

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