Following a trying year, we’ll all be forgiven for wanting to indulge, but don’t be so quick to write December out of your fitness regime. It’s an important time to stay focused on your health and there are plenty of ways to indulge and keep your weight in check – even if you can’t get to the gym.

Steven Virtue, Fitness Content and Programming Manager at Total Fitness, the North’s leading mid-market health club, shares his top tips for staying in shape over the festive period:

Keep moving

We often think of Christmas as being a time for lounging about the house with family and enjoying a well-earned rest. In reality, there’s always plenty to be doing that keeps us on our feet at Christmas time – putting up decorations, baking festive treats, deep cleaning before the mother-in-law arrives – to name a few. Whilst it can be tempting to leave these activities to others, helping around the house is actually a fantastic way to burn calories without even realising it. Studies estimate that around 10-15% of our total daily energy expenditure happens through NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis) which is all those movements in your daily life that don’t feel like exercise and you do without thinking about – such as going upstairs, preparing dinner, or getting up to make a cup of tea. So getting stuck into the festive preparations will certainly help you to keep the pounds off this Christmas.

Little and often

Of course, planned exercise contributes to fat loss, too, but it can be hard to find time amongst preparations and entertaining family. Can’t commit to an hour’s workout? No problem! Your body can achieve a great deal in as little as 10 minutes. Whilst gyms have been shut due to Covid-19, a wave of new workout content has become available online, with many personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts offering routines and circuits of varying lengths to help you stay in shape at home. If you can only allow a short window for exercise, make it count with a HIIT session (high-intensity interval training) that targets one area of your body, then shake it up the next day with another routine that’s set to target a different muscle group. With consistency, results will come.


Drink plenty of water

What would party season be without a festive tipple or two? Don’t deny yourself the glass of bubbly – or the steaming mulled wine – but do remember to keep up your water intake. Drinking plenty of water not only suppresses appetite but also boosts your metabolism, helping you to digest the festive treats faster and more efficiently.

Drinking water

Balance your plate

Portion control is a gift this time of year. Don’t say no to the Christmas pudding altogether, simply take a smaller portion. If temptation has been known to get the better of you in the past, be sure fill up on protein before dessert comes around. Protein is highly satiating and will keep you feeling fuller for longer – and of course, it’s great for growing muscle, too! Incorporate plenty of vitamins and nutrients into your festive meals by loading up on leafy greens like brussels sprouts, cabbage and other winter vegetables. The nutrients will give you a healthy festive glow and help replenish energy levels, so you can keep going throughout the party season.

Take Christmas walks

A leisurely winter walk is a popular tradition around Christmas time and is a great way to gently increase your heart rate whilst enjoying the company of loved ones over the festive period. Throw on a warm coat and get your family out for some fresh air or buddy up with a friend and commit to a regular morning walk to kick start your metabolism for the day. Walking in colder temperatures is especially effective for burning calories, as our bodies must work harder to regulate our core body temperature – bonus!

More information

Total Fitness is the leading mid-market health club in the north and provides more ways to get fit, stay in shape, and more support to keep members focused. With 17 health clubs across the North of England and Wales, Total Fitness provides a full-service fitness offering; guided by knowledgeable and supportive fitness teams, the brand works hard to meet the individual needs of its members.