Lorna North, aka Queen of the Mile, shares her clever tips for staying active during the mince pie madness

Between meeting final deadlines at work, squeezing in present shopping and all those social commitments, it’s no surprise that our fitness regime gets neglected over Christmas. As a result we put on an average of ½kg in December. But there are clever ways to avoid the Christmas creep, as running and cycling blogger Lorna North shares five time-saving ways to squeeze in some festive fitness without missing out on the fun.

1. Have a walking lunch

It’s easy to get swept up in the endless Christmas lunches with colleagues and friends. Instead, balance out the boozy feasts with lunch al fresco. An hour’s stroll around the local park can be as good for team-bonding as yet another wine-filled meal, plus an hour’s worth of brisk walking will burn an impressive 290 calories and help you reach the recommended 10,000 steps per day.

2. Smash it with HIIT

For a workout you can easily fit into all the festivities, try HIIT (High Intensity Interval Training). These short bursts of exercise are designed to give you a maximum-effort micro workout with a fast recovery time. Studies have shown that just 7-10 minutes of HIIT can burn more calories than a longer workout and it’s easily squeezed into your morning or evening routine. Check out Vitality’s HIIT training videos.

3. Put fitness in the diary

Rather than making a vague plan to exercise, schedule your run or gym session in your diary as you would a social event. Writing down your goals significantly increases your chance of achieving them and by giving your workout the same level of importance as a festive celebration, you’re less likely to bail on your plans. You could even make your social events fitness-related. Your friends are probably feeling the lack of exercise too, so swap dinner for a jog (half an hour burns around 230 calories) or try a new class together.

4. Hit the shops

Swapping your Christmas online shopping for the real thing is a really easy way to keep the steps up. Rather than ticking off your Christmas list from your sofa or bed, walking around town and carrying bags of presents will see you burning about 150 calories an hour. You can also increase the walking distance by parking further away – which means you can skip the busy car park too.

5. Play the postman

Turn your Christmas card list into calories burnt by delivering your cards by hand or bike this year. Not only does this save on the cost of stamps (up to £16 if your list is around 25 people), it’s also an easy way to increase your steps, get your heart pumping and up your intake of vitamin D. Take your activity tracker along to keep you motivated.

Try a Lorna-style challenge…

I’m personally making the most of December by using it to embark on one of my biggest fitness challenges yet. I’ll be running the length of the Thames Path from its source in Gloucestershire to the barrier in London. For seven days, I’ll be out in the fresh air, following the river on a 184-mile journey – roughly a marathon a day.

Setting yourself any type of fitness challenge – whether that’s keeping up your Parkrun schedule, hitting a daily steps target or setting the date for a half marathon in the new year – can be the ultimate way to kickstart your fitness regime for 2017.

Looking for a quick exercise fix? Try the 7-minute HIIT legs workout now.

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