Keeping fit over the festive season

There are no two ways about it, staying motivated to keep active and healthy at this time of year is really tough. So how do you go about keeping fit over the festive season?

The problem

The days are short. It’s dark when you wake up. It’s dark when you come home. When you finally get to see a bit of blue sky, chances are it’s when you’re stuck in the office and can’t get outside to appreciate it!

Then there is constant temptation. Wherever you turn with huge boxes of biscuits and chocolates in the office just screaming out to be eaten.

As for your social calendar, well that’s stuffed full like a stocking with parties, Christmas Fairs and drinks invites all rammed into a few weeks over December and January.

Before you know it, your sports kit has stayed in your gym bag for longer than you meant and your balanced diet is so far off the rails that you think “Why bother? I’ll start again in January.”

But it’s worth putting a little bit of effort in over the Christmas period, rather than trying to make drastic changes on January 1st and beating yourself up two days later because, not surprisingly, you’ve failed to give up chocolate, alcohol, all sugar, carbs, dairy and caffeine all in one go!

Why not try:

  1. Remember that moderation is key! There is no such thing as bad food, but you can have a bad diet. It’s fine to eat Christmas cake, mince pies and chocolate. But you don’t need all three every single day for a fortnight.
  2. If you don’t exercise regularly, start walking for 10 minutes a day from tomorrow. Then build up gradually to 30 minutes walking five times a week.
  3. Make sure you’re eating a healthy, filling breakfast, like porridge or overnight oats, which will keep you going for longer and save you from reaching for the biscuit tin at work.
  4. Make a deal with your friends or colleagues to do your local Parkrun one Saturday before the end of January. You can run or walk. Nobody gets left behind because there is ALWAYS a volunteer tail walker at the back.
  5. Donate some of that extra chocolate you don’t really need to a local foodbank.
  6. Ask for a session with a Personal Trainer or a 1-1 dance, yoga or Pilates class or tennis lessons for Christmas.
  7. Go big on the vegetables if you can’t resist seconds.
  8. After you’ve had a big boozy day, go teetotal or nominate yourself as driver next time.
  9. Take fresh fruit into the office. So, every time you want to dip into the chocolates, grab some fruit instead.
  10. Give couch to 5km a go, but do it now, rather than waiting. There will always be a reason not to start!

Helen Murray is a Personal Trainer, Nordic Walking Instructor and Triathlon Coach, based in Cheshire. She also co-hosts the Oxygen Addict triathlon podcast. Find out more at

If you haven’t exercised for a long time or you are concerned about the effects of exercise on your body or health, consult your GP.

If you are concerned about how to get through Christmas on your own, read Tamsin Caine’s blog here.

Smart Divorce offer help to organise your finances and move forward with your new life if you are going through separation or divorce. If you would like more information, email

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