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'Tis the season to be sporty!

For most people, December and the festive season is a time of indulgence, eating mince pies or risengrød for breakfast, having an extra glass of vino with our Sunday lunch and finding extra time in diaries to hygge with all the friends and family we’ve put off making plans with forever.

Photographs: Unsplash / Alexandra Beck

Text: Alexandra Beck

Often, our workout schedule takes the hit, which seems entirely reasonable! However, after many years of complaining about how I felt during and the day after festivities - December now tends to be the time of year when I exercise the most consistently. Here are some of the reasons why:

Exercise keeps me feeling energised during the dark days

Sports activities have become an essential part of my self-care routine during the winter months when looking after my mental health feels more crucial than ever.

Whether taking brisk walks or lifting weights, my winter routine makes me feel at my fittest and most confident just before Christmas, so training feels more enjoyable (and easier) than usual. As a result, I find myself more motivated to power through a gym class and chase fitness goals at the end of the year, as opposed to the start of the year when new year’s resolutions are in the spotlight.

Routine helps keep me in balance

I love the buzz of the festive period, but sometimes it can be overwhelming to have your routine wholly taken over by a hectic social calendar. Keeping my regular workout appointments helps me ward off social burnout at Christmas, as it secures some “me-time” and a regular routine that helps me find balance.

Consistent movement boosts my immune system

December calls not only for Santa and his reindeer but for colds and coughs too. So besides trying to stay on top of my vitamins and healthy eating between the festive meals, I like to keep up my fitness to ensure I can ward off attacking germs!

Physical activity and the rise in body temperature may make your antibodies and white blood cells circulate more rapidly around the body - all of which can help your body fight infections better.

Now I know that most of you know all of the above and probably have experienced the benefits of exercise and absolutely would like to adhere to this lifestyle, but the fact is, it’s not that easy to find the energy to apply it to your day to day, especially during the Gløgg & Æbleskiver period… but maybe these few tips can help with giving you a push.

Seek out an exercise partner or group

When exercising alone, you are the only person you need to convince to skip a session. But by exercising with a partner or group, some additional accountability can be met. Plus, exercise buddies can provide camaraderie and distraction from gloomy weather.

Focus on the mental health benefits

The physical benefits of working out are a game of patience and consistency - the mental health benefits, on the other hand, happen almost immediately. As a result, you’ll feel better, less stressed and more relaxed, which may be especially important during the hectic holiday season and when many suffer from seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Plan ahead and anticipate

For outdoor workouts, for example, check the weather forecast and be wary about what you’ll be up against the next day, whether wind, rain, snow or a cold blast. Plan suitable clothing by investing in some winter workout clothes and have everything ready for your exercise appointment: shoes, layers, gym bag and water.

Have a gym workout plan ready

Brownie points for showing up at the gym… extra points for knowing exactly what you are going to do, and following a plan! This will optimise your time at the centre and make you feel like your workout is under control. Perhaps you are already familiar with the equipment at your gym and how to use it, but if you are not, ask the staff or get a trainer who can support you in making a comprehensive and adapted programme for you. Enjoy every moment you get to move - this is the best feeling you can get!

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