I pretty much never send specific exercise suggestions on this mailing list.
There is so much variation between what each of you as individuals should be doing. What your mobility is like, your fitness and whether you have much experience with exercise all has an impact on the exercises I’d suggest for you. And that’s before we start to think about how much time you have available, what types of exercise you enjoy and how much stress we ought to be adding on to you.
This all said, after my email about not gaining weight over Christmas, quite a lot of you have emailed to ask how best to get some activity in and asking for some specific suggestions.
So here it is! What exercise to do over Christmas, and how to fit it in!
I wouldn’t usually say that a step counter was an essential piece of life equipment, but over Christmas, it probably would prove rather handy. Use the one on your phone if you don’t have an independent step counter, and use it for a few ‘normal days’ before Christmas so you can see how many steps you walk on a normal day.
Once we get to Christmas Day and the weird week between Christmas and New Year, activity almost always decreases along with the increase in food intake. This is where your step counter is handy!
Work out what a third of your usual steps adds up to, and make it your mission to get those steps in before, say, 10am.
How could you do this?
Go for an actual walk
Do a few star jumps or run on the spot or similar
Run up and down stairs a few times
Then, make a plan for getting another third of the steps in before the sun goes down.
I’d guess that for most of you, just bobbing around the house is likely to add up to at least a third of your usual steps; but if that seems unlikely to you, then adjust the steps you’re going to do morning and afternoon.
Keeping generally active is the number one thing you can do for all round health, and for offsetting some of those extra calories you’re going to eat over Christmas.
I find that once you know exactly what you need to do, and how long it is going to take you, exercise becomes much easier to fit in to busy times. Try to make it as un-traumatic to get on with as possible – don’t make it too difficult and daunting!
You could do this workout every day over Christmas if you’ve got a bit of experience with exercise like this. If you have no experience, then probably two or three times over the nine days is going to be about right. My advice is to choose what you think is the right amount for you to achieve, and set the target in your mind before the chaos of Christmas really begins! I find this a better approach than waiting for the right moment to arrive for you to fit a workout in – because, in my experience, that moment rarely arrives.
I like a timed workout here. This doesn’t mean it’s a race (although, if you’re pretty fit and confident with these exercises, you could definitely make it a race), it just means you know exactly how long your workout is going to take.
Let’s pick five exercises, then set your timer for however long you’ve got (let’s stick within a range of about 10-20 minutes).
For the purposes of keeping things simple, as long as you’re not cold when you start, just get on with the exercises as a circuit until the time runs out. Don’t kill yourself, just keep steadily plodding on until the time runs out and your smug points are in the bank.
Bridge Pulses X 15-30, until you start to really feel your glutes
You can do these with your feet on the floor or you can do them with your feet on the sofa. Either option can be done with both feet on the floor at the same time, or with one foot at a time.
Y-Raises X 10-20
You can do these standing up or lying on the floor if you want to make them harder.
Lift Up Press Ups X 5-15
You can do your press ups with your knees down or up.
Step Ups X 15-30 each leg
These are self explanatory. Find a step, then step onto it and back down. The higher the step the harder.
Bugs X 10-15 each leg
If you want to stage this back a little, slide your heels along the floor.
I have created a glamorous video of myself performing these exercises which I would be delighted to send to you, please ask and you shall receive!