If you want to avoid piling on the pounds, whilst still having the traditional, indulgent Christmas you love then you need this 12 days of Christmas health and fitness guide.

Day 1: Active presents

The best way to stick to the 12 days of Christmas health and fitness guide is to play with those gifts that make everyone active. If someone has been given a scooter, a bike, some skates or some fitness games like tennis on the Xbox or Playstation, get them out and have a play as a family. You can also hold a tournament using the gifts to keep people entertained.

Day 2: Short bursts

So, you’ve got your in-laws coming round for dinner and you’re going out with work friends for a Christmas drink before taking your nephew to a pantomime. Time is often precious and in short supply at Christmas, but on busy days like this break down your exercise into small, 10 minute sections. 10 minutes when you get up, 10 minutes at lunch and 10 minutes when you get home in the evening. Studies have found that short sessions like these are still effective.

Day 3: Enter a sporting event

Runs, triathlons, swims and cycling events have become ever more popular and you can see why; they act as a great motivation tool and can really help you to stay focused. Booking yourself a place in a sporting event will help you stay healthy and fit during Christmas and you won’t let your fitness regime slide. There are lots of sporting events that can be done during the Christmas period too, such as Santa runs and swims.

Day 4: Standard measures

Tonight you’re throwing a special Christmas party at home. Whilst in many ways this is great news for your health (greasy takeaways are not going to be as much of an option at home), it might mean that you get a little heavy handed with your drinks measures. Alcohol is one of the easiest ways to overindulge this Christmas, so to avoid ruining your health commitments use standard measures. Find out more about the impact of alcohol on health .

Day 5: High intensity

Zero time means that you should swap longer workouts for high intensity sessions. Circuit training, interval training or slow sessions with weights are all great ways to get the most out of a shorter workout. Skipping , the plank and other exercises using your bodyweight are also effective, high intensity workouts. To make your sessions festive make a Christmas playlist full of your favourite tunes – just make sure if you’re in the gym you don’t get lost in the moment and start to sing ‘All I Want For Christmas Is You’ to a burly bloke in a vest.

Day 6: Hit the streets

Although online shopping is handy, the 12 days of Christmas health and fitness guide recommends you should get out and shop in the non-virtual world at least a few times over Christmas. Walking around the store, carrying bags and pushing a trolley will mean that you’re getting a decent workout without realising it. Plus, looking at the Christmas gifts that are now on offer and listening to the carols in stores is not to be missed.  

Day 7: Relax

Today you need to take time to relax . It’s an important part of staying healthy and fit during Christmas, not only because it’s good for your mind and your stress levels, but also because relaxing and resting will mean that you have enough energy to do exercise on other days. Think about how you enjoy relaxing. You might like a hot, steamy bath, an invigorating exfoliating session or a face mask. You might just like to cosy up in front of a fire or lie down and listen to some music. Whatever you prefer, do it and take some time out tonight.

Day 8: Get rid of your tree

You don’t always have to hit the gym or go for a massive run to keep healthy and fit over the festive season. Today, you should go out with family or friends and get rid of your Christmas tree. Ask your family or friends to carry the tree to your car and then dispose of it safely. Although sad, taking down those decorations is a good way to get moving.

Day 9: Exercise after food

If you’re going out for a festive meal tonight try to fit in an exercise session after you’ve eaten. Studies show that exercising after you have eaten reduces blood sugar spikes. This means that you’re much less likely to reach for those mince pies or crisps and dip later in the evening. If you can’t get out for you normal session, you could just suggest going for a walk with the people you’ve eaten with.

Day 10: Thank you gifts

Time and money are both squeezed during December. Going out into the countryside and foraging for materials you can make into thank you gifts will help you and your family or friends get active and save money this Christmas. The gifts you make will depend upon where you are and materials you have available. Be creative and let your imagination go wild.

Day 11: Go for a festive picnic

A festive picnic is the perfect way to keep healthy and enjoy the Christmas period. If it’s too cold to eat outside have an indoor picnic, creating a winter wonderland in your living room by putting up a tent and decorating it with Christmas decorations. In your hamper pack some warm salmon fritters, a flask of squash soup and some mini turkey tartlets made with filo pastry and cranberries. Brandy soaked satsumas, roasted chestnuts and a cranberry, almond and yoghurt-coated raisin mix are all great holiday treats.

Day 12: Do you really want it?

Christmas often involves kicking back and throwing off your normal restraint. Yet often this means that we indulge in too much mindless eating. When you reach across for another handful of salted peanuts, or tuck into another Christmas biscuit, just think: do I really want this? Obviously you should have some treats, but overeating just makes you feel uncomfortable and will mean you have to work harder to get back to your pre-Christmas body.