How to beat Christmas weight gain – why snacking could be key to your exercise routine

Trust Me, I’m a Doctor: Mosley demonstrates at home exercises

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The Christmas season is a busy one for most people, and the idea of fitting exercise into an already packed schedule may seem impossible. However, exercise isn’t just good for weight maintenance and those hoping to lose a few pounds.

Exercise is vital in keeping our entire body healthy, from your internal organs to your mental wellbeing.

This is even more important during the winter months when viruses are rife and mental health conditions such as SAD are at their peak. spoke with health and fitness coach Amanda Price and NHS GP and media medic Dr Dawn Harper.

Prepare your schedule

Perhaps the key thing to maintaining some form of exercise regime over the festive period is to make a plan of action.

Ms Price said: “If you want to maintain your exercise regime during the Christmas period, you will need to schedule it in.

“Put it in your diary otherwise something else will fill its place.

“You could always consider switching sessions or classes at the gym to a home workout – there are great resources online that don’t necessarily require any equipment.”

Government health guidance recommends “150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise a week”.

According to Ms Price, this should ideally be “spread over four to five days a week”.

She added: “We should also be doing two strength sessions a week.

“I definitely recommend moving our bodies every day – we aren’t designed to be sitting anywhere near as long as we do.”

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Try exercise snacking

According to Ms Price, “exercise snacking” could be the perfect way to ensure you fit enough exercise into a busy festive routine.

She explained: “What I find my clients like is exercise snacking.”

The fitness coach describes this as “short bursts of exercise two or three times a day”.

She continues: “You could spend five minutes in the kitchen doing some squats, some lunges and some press-ups against the kitchen work surface. Or do some jumping jacks and star jumps in your living room.”

Dr Harper echoed this advice, adding that people should try to fit in exercise “snacks” even when they have just a few minutes.

She said: “Doing little bits often can make a big difference to your physical and mental well-being.

“You may find it helpful to start small. Try doing some squats or stretches as you wait for the kettle to boil, or lift some baked bean cans whilst cooking.”

Whether it’s just five minutes here and there, or a dedicated 15 minutes in the morning and afternoon, bursts of exercise can help maintain your physical fitness throughout the busier months when your normal routine may not be possible.

Ms Price said: “Small bursts of exercise like this will keep you active, warm and will mean that you will be able to return to your usual exercise regime without too much trouble – unless you’re a top athlete of course. And, you don’t need to change into your gym kit to do it.”

Make exercise a social activity

You may be someone who considers exercise somewhat of a slog, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be this way.

Multi-tasking and transforming exercise into a social activity can help you catch up with loved ones while looking after both of your health.

According to Dr Harper, one easy way to do this is by going on a long, brisk walk.

She said: “See if a friend or family member will take part in some physical activity each week with you.

“This could be for a walk around the park, or you both follow the same online session – this increases motivation to keep going, but can also reduce feelings of loneliness.”

Ms Price added: “Although it may be cold outside, the benefits of outdoor exercise are well evidenced.

“So wrap up well and go for a walk. Grab a friend to make it more sociable. If you walk fast enough or find some hill, you will raise your heart rate and stay warm. And you will feel amazing afterwards.”

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