How to sleigh the festive season

It's the end of the day and all you want to do is go home and curl up under a blanket on the sofa. Know the feeling?

Turns out we're not the only ones. December's the month where even regular exercisers workout the least.

When there's alcohol-fuelled social events and last-minute shopping involved, it's easy to fall off the workout wagon.

Unfortunately that usually means that you'll lose the progress you've worked so hard to achieve.

Although it's not top of our Christmas list, staying active fends off the winter blues and helps you feel better about yourself.

Here's 3 festive 'elf tips yule thank us for!


1. Set a golden goal

Most people set goals for themselves in the New Year. But why weight (sorry, wait) for then?

Set a goal for January now and this will help motivate you to train all through winter.

You may be wondering: 

"Can't I just pick up where I left off when it comes to January?"

Truth is, you'll find it a lot more difficult to pick up where you left off if you haven't exercised in a month or two.

In fact, a 2013 study by the University of Tokyo found that after about 4 weeks of inactivity, you start to lose muscle.

Staying active through winter means you won't lose the progress you've worked so hard to achieve.


2. Buddy up

We get it: the dark, cold weather can make curling up on the couch a lot more appealing than heading out for a sweat session.

The thing is, this often makes us feel even more sluggish as a result of lower levels of sunlight.

If you're feeling like this, chances are the rest of your family are feeling the same way.

We all know that exercise can instantly lift our mood so why not swap the Quality Streets for quality time?

Challenge your family to find fun ways to get moving - think crunching leaves on a winter walk through the forest or laughing and sliding your way around an outdoor ice rink.

With the gym, the key to success is arranging to meet a friend at a class.

Trying something new like a dance class together is tons of fun and releases feel-good hormones, keeping the winter blues at bay! 

What's not to like?


3. HIIT it off

Let's face it: It's difficult to find time to keep fit when your diary is full of social events, bubbly after work and Christmas shopping. 

In fact, a Gallup poll found that most people reported their lowest levels of exercise in December, compared to any other time of the year.

Staying active helps balances out the influx of mince pies, but if you don't have hours of free time to hit the gym, there's no need to beat yourself up.

Tabata workouts are super effective at helping you stay in shape around the food-focused holidays.

Plus, they can be over and done with in just 10 minutes.

Here's how it goes:

- 3 minute warm up

- 4 minute workout (details below)

- 3 minute cool down

The workout itself involves 20 seconds of all-out effort (e.g. cycling, burpees), followed by 10 seconds of rest, repeated 8 times.

This high-intensity training not only burns tonnes of calories while working out, but also burns calories well into the night and the next day. 

Sounds good right?


The verdict?

That time between Christmas and New Year can make a lot of us feel Claus-trophobic.

Simply setting yourself a small goal for January helps you wrap up the year with bundles of energy.

If you only do one thing this month, make it one of these tips and your body will thank you!