Saturday 20 July 2019

Five simple ways to turn family time into fitness time over Twixmas

Out and about: A family walk
Out and about: A family walk
Karl Henry

Karl Henry

We can relax - the most anticipated dinner of the year is now over! The nation's waistlines have expanded, we all fell asleep on the couch after eating way too much food, our bodies have shut down in order to let our stomachs do all the work, and now you've woken up to face more of the same over the coming days.

that's what Christmas is all about. That's also what a balanced approach to health is all about - having the treat days and enjoying them because, let's face it, life is for living and health, in its real form, allows for that.

But let's not lose the run of ourselves. It's important to look at the next few days as a chance to turn some of that family time into fitness time.

It's rare that you are all off and at home together, so in today's column, let's take a look at what you can do to get away from the television and into the trainers.

1 Climb a mountain

Ireland has an incredible abundance of mountains to climb that are free and generally sign-posted for you every step of the way. What better way to dust off the cobwebs than a hill walk in the fresh air, surrounded by trees and nature? With the endorphin-fuelled rush of getting to the top, it's a super way to spend time together, too.

Bring a backpack, stock it with water, fruit and a leftover turkey sandwich and you are good to go. Looking for mountains to climb? Check out for more details and maps to point you in the right direction.

2 Batch cook

One thing is for sure, there will always be plenty of leftovers after yesterday's dinner, so why not make that into something fun and productive by getting the family cooking?

Batch cooking was one of the big fitness trends for 2017 and is sure to continue for 2018.

Research your favourite cookbooks, pick out some new recipes and get cooking as a family, filling the freezer full of healthy meals that will last you well into the new year, and also reduce the amount of food waste in your home over the festive season.

3 Nominate a car-free day

This is always one of my favourite and simplest family fitness hacks that works really well.

Pick a day that you know you will have to leave the house to meet friends or go shopping or something similar and nominate that as your car-free day. This encourages your family to get walking and can be such an easy way to get some fitness into your day, as well as saving on your fuel bills.


If your family is glued to the television this week, then why not turn that to your advantage by doing a YouTube workout? You don't even have to leave the house! You can still watch TV, but you're turning the TV into a fitness tool.

There are literally thousands of YouTube workouts to follow and most of them are equipment-free, too, which makes it even better. You will be getting fitter and having some fun while you're at it, helping to burn off some of the Christmas excess.

5 Put together a fitness event list

We all loves lists and plans - it gives us something to work towards, and families are exactly the same. Sit down over the coming days and put together a fitness event list with your family, maybe one fitness-based activity or race a month, and put it in the calender. It will give you a great sense of direction as a family and the feel-good effect from events and races is epic. The best part is that so many of these events are free.

These are just some of the simple tips that really can help you get the most from these days off and also have a knock-on effect for the rest of the year. What's not to love?

Irish Independent

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