Alternative Christmas family fitness tips

Originally published on The Running Bug

Don’t get cabin fever this Christmas! Keep the whole family active with our alternative fitness tips.

Alternative Christmas family fitness tips
Christmas is fast approaching, but it comes with a mountain of food, booze and lethargy. If the concept of slobbing out in front of the telly for five days’ straight fills you with dread but your family has other ideas, recruit the clan and turn the festive season into a fitness-fuelled party!

Go offline

We hate to be a digital scrooge but the first step in family fitness motivation is to switch off the TV, confiscate all smart phones and hide the tablets. If your family kick up a fuss, locate the source and switch off the WI-FI. To get the whole household active you need to go gadget-free!

If your teenage kids can’t cope without the internet, bribe them. One hour of family fitness fun equals an hour of online time later. Yes, it’s tough love, but in this digital age switching everything off in favour of physical exercise is the only way.

Walk the walk

The easiest way to rally the troops and get the blood pumping on Christmas day is to go for a walk. The kids will whinge like mad and you’ll struggle to lure auntie away from the telly, but a traditional Christmas walk is essential and should not be missed! A 30-minute ramble in the closest patch of woodland comes with multiple health benefits including a welcome mood boost, burning off the fat roast dinner and knackering the kids out.

To incentivise the concept of walking for the little ones, suggest they count Christmas trees en route, or bribe them with chocolates (it is Christmas after all).

If you can’t persuade granny to join you, remind her that a recent study at The University of Cambridge found just 20 minutes of strolling a day cuts the risk of premature death by almost a third, so she’ll make it to loads more family Christmases if she pulls her boots on.

Timed assault course

A perfect late morning activity to get the kids out of your hair while Christmas lunch is prepared, head for your local play park and tell them it’s an assault course. Time each kid (and eager adult) to finish the circuit, and the winner gets to open the first pressie.

If your local park is lacking in decent play equipment, make your own up. You could try timed sprints, cartwheels, burpees and skipping races to work up a sweat. While we wouldn’t recommend exerting yourself under the influence of alcohol, the addition of a few sherries will turn this into a particularly entertaining game for the adults.

Stage a dance-off

In the early evening lull when you’re stuffed with food and the kids are starting to get agitated, now is the time to crank up the disco and have a dance-off! Everyone loves to shake their booty, it’s an excellent family bonding mechanism and a recent study has found that dancing actually slows down the brain’s ageing process, so dancing really does keep you young.

Your idea of good boogie music will probably differ wildly from the kids, so stick on some 80’s classics (everyone loves a wedding banger) and get the whole family on the dance floor.

If any of your relatives are burdened with two left feet, stage a limbo contest! Simply grab the kitchen broom, get one of the kids to hold each end and keep going lower and lower until the limbo king or queen is crowned. You might want to let granny sit this one out though.

Get your glow on

It’s night time, you’re all suffering from cabin fever and the Christmas film offering is a bit rubbish. What should you do to wear out the little ones who are all high on sugar? In the absence of any snowballs to throw (let’s face it, we haven’t had a white Christmas in yonks) head for the back garden or local park, unpack your glow-sticks and have a night fight!

It sounds a bit nuts, but we swear a glow-fight is the best way to work up a sweat in a pitch dark garden on a budget. You can pick glow-sticks up from your local pound shop, so simply snap them to turn the lights on, throw them in the air and watch the magical Star Wars light show unfold!

This game can be hazardous for the little ones so make sure you’re on a safe patch of grass and hang onto the particularly small family members while they throw the night lights around. You can also get LED light-up balloons from most supermarkets to add to the fanfare.