Sport Imperial Christmas Fitness Tips
14 December 2011
James Blackley, Assistant Manager at Ethos shares his 12 top fitness tips to guide you through the holiday season.
1. Do something everyday
Use the Christmas break to do something active and healthy every day. If you have a gym membership then make the most of it when it’s more likely to be nice and quiet, but if you do not don’t think there is nothing you can do! It’s easy to go for a walk, a swim or a bike ride but you could also find something festive to do. Many sites around London set up ice skating rinks that you could visit; or, if we get the weather, there’s nothing more fun than sledging – and London has some great places for that – Greenwich Park and Hampstead Heath have both been listed in the Guardian newspaper as two of ‘Britain’s favourite Sledging Spots’.
2. Alcohol awareness
We all like to go out in the festive season (and we’re not going to tell you not too!) but be aware of the implications of it! Alcohol inhibits the breakdown of fat; reduces the absorption of nutrients from your food; and is likely to increase appetite and therefore calorie consumption. You’re also less likely to do something active the following day if recovering from a hangover, so this Christmas reconsider the ‘Go on then, just one more!’
3. Prioritise exercise
Make your workouts/exercise sessions a priority – try early morning sessions to get them out of the way so you can spend time with your family or other enjoyable activities.
4. Don’t skip meals
While it might be tempting to skip meals to ‘save up for holiday treats’, it is actually counterproductive. Your body was designed thousands of years ago before Sainsbury’s Local was situated just around the corner, so if you skip a meal your body thinks it is in a time of hardship (i.e. winter) and in effect goes into ‘survival mode’ burning less calories until it next receives food.
5. Remember your protein
Make sure you are getting enough protein. Protein is a very important macronutrient that is essential for the growth and repair of your body’s cells. Good animal sources are: beef, lamb, poultry, eggs, fish and milk. Good vegetable sources are: nuts, soy foods, bean and legumes, spirulina, chorella or blue-green algae (over 60% protein).
6. Think competitive
If you’re feeling competitive why not enter a five kilomentre (5K) running race? There are plenty around including one right on Imperial’s doorstep in Hyde Park on the last Friday of every month. To find an organised run near where you live check out www.parkrun.org.uk who run weekly free 5k timed runs up and down the country. You’ll feel far more virtuous once completed than if you’d gone for that lunchtime pint!
7. Leave the car at home
When you go out to meet friends make the effort to walk there instead of driving or being driven there. It’s a good time for a chat, take in some scenery and helps keep you active.
8. Get hydrated
Make a conscious effort to drink plenty of water throughout the day and in-between alcoholic drinks. Staying hydrated helps your body counter the dehydrating affects of travel and alcohol. Water will also help satiate your appetite as thirst is often mistaken for hunger.
9. Home gym
If you want to do ‘gym type exercise’ but don’t have a gym membership or can’t get to one, set yourself up at home and get on with it there. There are numerous books and internet sites championing the methods and benefits of exercise without too much equipment. A good place to start is James Cracknell’s book ‘No-Gym Health Plan’ or Mark Lauren’s ‘You are your own gym’ for the more adventurous.
10. Make it count
Carrying out your exercise at a higher intensity will not only burn more calories but also raise your metabolism for longer and thus you’ll continue to burn calories long after you stop. Don’t just ‘drift’ through your workout with no real purpose – you won’t get out of it what you could!
11. Stretch it out
Take time to stretch. Even if you don’t do a specific workout use some of your spare time (or when you’re watching the Queens speech!) to sit down and combat the last few months of being sat at your computer to relieve those muscles and improve your posture. For best results perform each stretch at least twice and hold each time for 15 – 30 seconds.
12. There’s no time like the present
And lastly, don’t wait until the New Year to make that resolution and change your fitness regimen. A fun way to think about it is ‘The Calorie Hole’. Always dig a hole before you fill it up. If you add to it before you’ve dug it, well, you know what happens!