Your Christmas fitness plan

November 30 2018

Let's be honest, everyone indulges at Christmas.  

However, what you might not know is that the average person consumes a whopping 6000 calories on Christmas Day. That's nearly three times more than our regular 2000-2500 calorie intake!

However, with a little bit of planning and restraint around Christmas time, there are a number of steps you can take to help counteract the inevitable excess linked to the festivities.

Follow the tips below to help keep in shape and stay active so you can end 2018 feeling amazing!


Injecting some cardio into your week is an essential part of staying fit, and finding a local ParkRun near you is a great way to start your Christmas morning. The non-competitive 5k runs are spread up and down the country, plus, they’re free to enter too!

Run Together

Another great way to get out on the Big Day is to take a look at the RunTogether website. There are more than 2000 groups across the country, and as the name suggests, they’re full of friendly, inviting members ready to run - even on Christmas Day! If you're in Scotland, take a look at JogScotland, or if you're based in Wales, check out Run Wales

Train like a pro

If you’re feeling up to it, you could always take the professional athlete approach. Mo Farah, for example, famously puts aside time on Christmas morning to get some miles under his belt, and he’s not alone. Many of England’s top distance runners often use the morning to get a quiet hour or two of exercise in before the festivities begin.

There’s no need to push yourself too hard though, as a quick calorie check tells us that we’d need to run 52 miles to burn off the average Christmas calorie intake. Our advice would be to treat it as a recovery day with some light exercise - and enjoy yourself - it’s Christmas!

If you do feel like pushing yourself, why not take on our Christmas Calorie Sleigher challenge? These calorie-burning workouts are designed to balance out any winter feasting and are available to enter directly from the Fitness First Core app all throughout December.  

Start your day off right

Before you start your festive run, make sure you have breakfast, as skipping it can lead to overeating later in the day. Scrambled eggs and salmon is a great choice, as its really low in calories - plus, it’s delicious!

From then on it’s all about restraint. Portion control, taking it easy on the booze and eating nice and slow all make a big difference.

Your Christmas dinner


  • Potatoes contain fibre, potassium, vitamin C, and vitamin B6 content, which coupled with its lack of cholesterol, all support a healthy heart. Of course, cooking them in goose fat may counteract these positives!


  • No one needs to remind you that carrots and broccoli are good for you. These Christmas dinner staples are great sources of vitamins and minerals, as well as being antioxidants, which are good for your heart.


  • As much as you may not like it, store-bought gravy is not good for you. Preparing your own homemade gravy is a much healthier (and tastier) option than the standard granule version.


  • Nuts are packed with heart-healthy fats, protein, vitamins, and minerals, making them just about the best thing on the table. Ditch the Christmas pud this year, and opt instead for a tasty handful of nuts.


  • Cranberries have an impressive amount of antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and anti-cancer properties. There aren’t too many foods around that are packing so much good.


  • Red wine is surprisingly healthy (in moderation). It lowers cholesterol, contains antioxidants that help protect your heart, and there have been a host of studies which suggest it fights colds too.


  • Brussels sprouts are packed with such a huge range of vitamins that they truly can claim to be one of the world’s best super-foods. But preparation is the key – no boiling, ever!


To help you better understand how overindulging at Christmas can affect your calorie intake, take a look at our infographic below to see how much exercise is needed to burn off your festive favourites.


Download the Fitness First CORE app now to enter the challenge.

Apple App Store

Google Play Store

Not a member? Request your FREE 3 day pass for your nearest Fitness First club and start burning those Christmas calories!

If you need a little bit of an extra push to help you stick to your fitness routine during the festive period, take a look at our guide on how to stay motivated during winter.

Visit the England Athletics website for more help and advice on running and keeping fit.


Find a club near you