How to survive Christmas: 10 ways to beat the festive bloat

The Christmas season is well under way and over-indulgence in food and drink is hard to avoid. Here are 10 ways to shake off those festive excesses by sprinkling a little physical activity into your social diary.

1) A festive season swim

Swimmers taking part in a Christmas Day swim in Bournemouth
Many people taking part in a festive swim do so in fancy dress - perhaps to distract them?

Every year many brave souls take to freezing waters around the country in special Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day eventsexternal-link and you can be raising money for charity at the same time.

If perhaps you'd prefer a slightly warmer or varied swimming experience then our swimming guide has plenty of ways you can take to the water this festive season.

2) Ceilidh

ceilidh on Aonach Moor

It's the season of ceilidhs, so why not birl away those winter blues with some traditional Scottish dance.

Whether it is charity fundraiser, a community group's annual bash or a Hogmanay party, you can enjoy a night of dancing, jigging and soaking up the atmosphere of a live band.

3) Walk

Man and boy walking across peaks.

Step away from the TV remote and step outside to clear your head.

Simply going for a walk gets the heart pumping faster, and more blood and oxygen circulating not just to the muscles but to all the organs - including your brain.

Britain's walking charity Ramblersexternal-link has a list of local walking groups, as well as mapped walking routes to help you plan your own walk.

4) Orienteering

Young man taking part in Orienteering

How about getting off the beaten track with a spot of orienteering?

You can go at your own pace, so it shouldn't matter how young, old or fit you are.

The aim is to navigate your own route between a series control points using a map and sometimes a compass.

Quite a few forests have permanent orienteering coursesexternal-link. Alternatively find a local club on the British Orienteeringexternal-link or Scottish Orienteeringexternal-link websites.

5) Christmas yoga

Yoga tree pose in the sunset with 2017 feature

Fancy something that's a bit slower pace? Why not try some festive yoga poses in your own home!

You can attempt the Christmas tree (see above), star or even an angel in this selectionexternal-link of moves.

And if you want to make yoga a regular part of your lifestyle in 2017 we have just the tips to help you on your way.

6) Conservation work

stone walls

What better way to work up a sweat than by building paths, mending fences or planting trees?

Conservation charities are always on the look out for volunteers, for one-off days, regular outings, or even working holidays.

Here's a list for starters: The National Trustexternal-link, The Conservation Volunteersexternal-link, The Wildlife Trustexternal-link, John Muir Trustexternal-link, Forestry Commission Scotlandexternal-link, RSPBexternal-link.

7) Ice rink

princes street edinburgh

It might seem a bit scary or intimidating at first, but if you have reasonable balance, a desire to learn, you'll probably be scooting around the ice rink sooner than you think.

Why not make the most of seasonal ice rinks such as those set up in many city centres, or contact your nearest club for information about open sessions or beginner classes? The National Ice Skating Association of Great Britain and NIexternal-link has a list of clubs.

Go on, who knows who you may bump into...

8) Sledging


Will every child's dream come true over the Christmas holidays with the arrival of some snow?

Kids never tire of the buzz you can get from hurtling down a hill on a bit of plastic.

So if it does snow, get a sledge and rediscover your inner child!

9) Play

Children playing outside chess

While we're on the subject of children. If you have young kids or grandchildren, don't just turn them loose over the holidays; play with them.

Whether it's rounders, kite flying, swimming or bike riding, getting down with the kids can be a good way of increasing your heart rate while having fun.

Play England,external-linkPlay Scotlandexternal-link and Play Walesexternal-link have resources and information about playing. The Woodland Trust external-linkalso has good ideas for winter play.

10) Go see the sights

big wheel

Ditch the car, and see the lights on foot. Embrace the Christmas spirit by planning a night out with your family or friends to walk the streets and soak up the festive, twinkling atmosphere.

And after all this exercise, you'll have earned yourself a hot chocolate and mince pie!