How to stay in shape during the festive season as recommended by a fitness expert

Steven Virtue has some quick and simple tips on how to stay in shape during December

Person showing thunmb up sitting on an exercise mat wearing a Christmas hat
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Between festive nights out and visiting family and friends, it can be hard to stay on top of exercising over the Christmas period. There are just too many commitments and too little time! Most people only have a few days off work between Christmas and New Year's Eve, on which they want to relax and let go, not curl dumbbells or wake up early to go for a run.

That said, it's far from impossible to stay in shape this Christmas season (and to get fit for 2022). No one knows this better than Steven Virtue, Fitness Development Manager at Total Fitness, who has shared some quick and simple tips on how to stay in shape during December.

Steven's suggestions are easy to follow and require little to no equipment; if you're after workout advice, check out the best full-body workout and the best push-pull-leg exercise routine. Should you wish to lose belly fat, read up on how to boost metabolism and get a six-pack.

Keep moving

We often think of Christmas as being a time for lounging around the house and enjoying a well-earned rest. In reality, there are always plenty of things to be doing that will keep us on our feet over the festive season – including putting up decorations, baking festive treats, deep cleaning the house before family members arrive, to name just a few.

"Whilst it can be tempting to leave these activities to others, helping around the house is actually a fantastic way to burn calories without even realising it", Steven suggests, "Studies estimate that around 10-15% of our total daily energy expenditure happens through Non-exercise Activity Thermogenesis – or NEAT for short – which is all those movements in your daily life that don’t feel like exercise and you do without thinking about - such as going upstairs, preparing dinner, or getting up to make a cup of tea."

So, getting stuck in the festive preparations will certainly help you to keep the pounds off this Christmas.

person doing a footwork drill

(Image credit: Reebok)

Little and often

Of course, planned exercise contributes to fat loss, too, but it can be hard to find time amongst preparations and entertaining family. Can’t commit to an hour’s workout? No problem! Your body can achieve a great deal in as little as 10 minutes.

"If you’re a little time-strapped and can’t make it to the gym, there remains a huge amount of workout content available online, with many personal trainers and fitness enthusiasts offering routines and circuits of varying lengths to help you stay in shape at home", Says Steven, "If you can only allow a short window for exercise, make it count with a HIIT session (high-intensity interval training) that targets one area of your body, then shake it up the next day with another routine that’s set to target a different muscle group. With consistency, results will come."

Need some inspiration on how to get started with HIIT? Here are 5 reasons why you should start HIIT, a 7-minute HIIT home workout that requires no equipment, and the best HIIT workout out there. 

Drink plenty of water

What would party season be without a festive tipple or two?

"Don’t deny yourself the glass of bubbly - or the steaming mulled wine - but do remember to keep up your water intake", Steven recommends, "Drinking plenty of water not only suppresses appetite but also boosts your metabolism, helping you to digest the festive treats faster and more efficiently."

Drinking more water can help you avoid weight gain at home and help lose weight easier. It's also good for the skin and for general health, too.

Meal prepared in three containers sitting on a kitchen counter

(Image credit: Pexels/Ella Olsson)

Balance your plate

Portion control is a gift this time of year. Don’t say no to the Christmas pudding altogether, simply take a smaller portion. If temptation has been known to get the better of you in the past, be sure to fill up on protein before dessert comes around.

"Protein is highly satiating and will keep you feeling fuller for longer – and of course, it’s great for growing muscle, too!", explains Steven, "Incorporate plenty of vitamins and nutrients into your festive meals by loading up on leafy greens like brussels sprouts, cabbage and other winter vegetables. The nutrients will give you a healthy festive glow and help replenish energy levels, so you can keep going throughout the party season."

For a quick top-up, you can try incorporating protein shakes or protein bars into your diet. If you're planning on putting on weight, try mass gainers instead.

Take Christmas walks

A leisurely winter walk is a popular tradition around Christmas time and is a great way to gently increase your heart rate whilst enjoying the company of loved ones over the festive period.

"Throw on a warm coat and get your family out for some fresh air or buddy up with a friend and commit to a regular morning walk to kick start your metabolism for the day", Steven adds, "Walking in colder temperatures is especially effective for burning calories, as our bodies must work harder to regulate our core body temperature – bonus!"


This feature is part of T3's Get Fit 2022 campaign. We’ll be bringing you a wealth of guides, features, deals and news to help you get healthy, fit and ready for anything the new year can throw at you. Whether you’re a newcomer to fitness or someone with a passion for it, we’ll bring you all the best workouts, diet advice and gear to set you on the right track.

Matt Kollat
Section Editor | Active

Matt Kollat is a journalist and content creator who works for and its magazine counterpart as an Active Editor. His areas of expertise include wearables, drones, fitness equipment, nutrition and outdoor gear. He joined T3 in 2019. His byline appears in several publications, including Techradar and Fit&Well, and more. Matt also collaborated with other content creators (e.g. Garage Gym Reviews) and judged many awards, such as the European Specialist Sports Nutrition Alliance's ESSNawards. When he isn't working out, running or cycling, you'll find him roaming the countryside and trying out new podcasting and content creation equipment.