Festive ways to get fit this winter

Posted on November 18, 2014

Festive ways to get fit

Christmas calorie counter: Festive ways to get fit this winter

Research has shown that many people living in the UK are prone to gaining weight during winter1. This perhaps comes as no surprise to a country that collectively diets every January2. For many, Christmas is a time to indulge. Rich foods fill our cupboards and the cold weather keeps us indoors and sedentary. Consequently, Christmas weight gain becomes hard to avoid. So whilst it's nice to enjoy the season as a 'one-off' time of year, it helps to take some precautionary measures.

Although it's always good to maintain a balanced diet, staying active over Christmas can go a long way in keeping you fit and healthy and will help to burn off any treats you do indulge in. Despite popular opinion, winter is full of opportunity to get outside and get active. As a leading provider of health cash plans, we couldn't resist compiling a handy graphic to get you started. Here's the logic behind each activity: 
 
Santa run- burns 400 calories per 6km, justifies a turkey and stuffing sandwich. Helps boost your mood, why not try getting the family involved?

        Ice skating- burns 476 calories an hour, justifies a portion of christmas pudding. Helps improve balance and coordination, why not try getting lessons to hone your skills?

Santa run

Santa runs have become a popular way of giving to charity whilst getting active. Not only is running excellent for your physical health, it's good for the mind too. Researchers say that it releases 'feel-good' hormones called endocannabinoids3. Running also burns up calories and fat, as well as speeding up your metabolism in the long-term.

Ice skating

Ice skating is a good form of cardio exercise that improves balance and coordination. The movements work out small stabiliser muscles that don't normally get exercised in day-to-day life. It is particularly good for the muscles around the hips, knees and ankles. Continuous ice skating will also get your heart racing. This helps speed up the metabolism and burn calories4.

Family sports- burns 238 calories per 30 min (football) and justifies a cup of eggnog. Helps reduce cardiovascular risk, why not try making it a weekly event?
        Winter walks- burns 170 calories per hour and justifies a cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit. Helps aid digestion, why not try Kew Royal Botanical Gardens?
 
Family sports

For many, Christmas is a time where family comes together. So why not make use of your extra team mates in a friendly game of football? Running, sprinting and using bursts of energy is great for engaging the cardiovascular system5. This reduces the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis and other chronic diseases5. You never know, if you really enjoy it, it may become a regular event.

Winter wonderland walks

A gentle walk after a big meal is good way to aid digestion. It also helps to avoid spikes in blood sugar levels, which can decrease cardiovascular risk6.  Plus, walking at 3.5mph burns calories quickly; around 259 per hour in fact. Doing this regularly has been shown to reduce the risk of strokes, asthma and type two diabetes1. And with so many beautiful winter landscapes to choose from, Christmas is the perfect time to give it a go.

Christmas swim- burns 204 calories per 30 min and justifies 4 pigs in blankets. Helps aerobic fitness, why not try swimming in fancy dress?

        Sledding- burns 408 calories per hour (walking uphill) and justifies roast turkey, stuffing and potatoes. Helps tone the lower body muscle, why not try taking a hot flask of soup?

Christmas swim

Charity 'Christmas swims' take place across the UK annually, providing a fantastic opportunity to get active in a whole new way. Whether you're dressed as Santa or not, swimming is an effective form of aerobic exercise. Its most notable benefit is the low-impact it has on the body. You can burn calories and strengthen muscles while only bearing about ten per cent of your own weight. The rest is supported by water7.

Sledding

Successful sledding means walking uphill, which is a good form of intense exercise. It increases the heart rate and tones the lower body muscles. Your hamstrings, for example, need to be actively contracted in order to push yourself upwards. But don't forget: what goes up, must come down!

Indulging at Christmas doesn't have to mean giving up on healthy living altogether. Life is all about moderation and getting the balance right. So enjoy treats but do your bit to work them off too. It'll make for a very merry Christmas, and a much happier New Year.

Sources

1. http://www.nhs.uk/Avoidwinterweightgain 
2. http://www.theguardian.com/dieting-makes-you-fatter 
3. http://www.runnersworld.com/6-ways-running-improves-your-health 
4. http://www.besthealthmag.ca/the-fitness-benefits-of-ice-skating
5. http://www.livestrong.com/the-advantages-of-football/ 
6. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/really-the-claim-taking-a-walk-after-a-meal-aids-digestion
7. http://health.howstuffworks.com/10-health-benefits-of-swimming

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