The fittest Christmas calendar

December is often filled with extra chores – cooking, baking, cleaning, shopping for presents and so on – so I don’t blame you for thinking there is no time for anything else this month. It’s the reason so many of us wait until January to do something for our health!

However, with my Christmas calendar, you can start right now and keep going through December and into the new year. It demands a minimum of time and effort and you are largely free to decide what kind of activity you want to do.

This calendar asks for 10 minutes of your time, six days a week, and 30 minutes one day a week. This is of course minutes outside of your already busy life. So, if you already walk the dog for 10 minutes, three times a day, you could then go for a fourth time or spend the minutes on something else.

  It could be something as simple as going for a short, brisk walk outside your home: Five minutes in one direction, return and walk five minutes back. The 30 minutes could be a longer tempo walk. 

You could also cycle, or put on a few tunes and dance around in your living room. You could spend the ten minutes doing push-ups. Start your month by doing them from the knees, taking as many short breaks as you need. With time and practice, the need for breaks will be fewer and you will soon be able to do a few push ups at a time from the full position. 

You could also practice the art of the perfect squat (and hold something over your head to maximise the output of this exercise). Count to five while going down and up, making sure you are in full control during the whole of the movement. As you progress through the month, you could pick heavier objects to lift or stay longer at the bottom.

Jumping jacks or burpees are another full body exercise, which you can do in the comfort of your home. Doing them for ten minutes straight will be very hard, so what you can do is choose to do five or ten in a row, then take 10-30 seconds break and then another handful. 

Finally there is also the choice to mix everything up. Do exercises one day, go for a walk the next, do an extra vacuum of the house on the third. 

So why this ‘Do it Yourself Calendar’ in the busiest month of the year? First of all to attend to your health. Your fitness, muscles, ligaments, bones, heart and lungs will thank you for the extra attention. Our bodies were not made to sit still from dawn to dusk, even if it can sometimes feel like this is all we want to do. We were meant to move. Movement creates serotonin production in the brain, one of the feel good drugs, which makes us feel good: Good about ourselves and our effort, good about life and others. It helps us see the world in a better light.

Secondly, and just as important, following a calendar like this will help you carve out some time to yourself every day. Even it’s just ten minutes, it’s still your ten minutes. Not to be disturbed by others, by the smartphone, the tv or your computer. Don’t dismiss the good of taking a small bit of time to yourself. As we grow up and get responsibilities, time to ourselves is growing smaller and smaller. Setting a goal to fulfill a Christmas calendar like this allows us to say, ‘No thank you’ to other distractions for the short amount of time there is dedicated to each day.

My hope for the calendar is also that this will create so much positive energy in your life that the activities you choose will become routine and habit that will serve you long after Christmas.

For inspiration I have put together this example:

Monday: 10 minute brisk walk **

Tuesday: 10 minute different exercises (Push ups, sit ups, jumping jacks, lunges, burpees. Do three and take 30 seconds rest, then another three until the 10 minutes are up)*

Wednesday: 10 minute dancing or brisk walk

Thursday: 10 minute brisk walk or biking **

Friday: 10 minute different exercises (If you chose push ups on Tuesday, you can choose lunges or sit ups this time. Three times, 30 seconds break)*

Saturday: 10 or 30 minute brisk walk **

Sunday: 10 or 30 minute brisk walk **

* 3 exercises/ 30 seconds break – week 1 

4 exercises/ 30 seconds break – week 2

4 exercises/ 20 seconds break – week 3

5 exercises/ 20 seconds break – week 4  

If you continue from week 4, you can – when it starts to feel easy – add in one or two exercises and/or take seconds from the rest period.

** Being outside will do you good. Even if the weather is not. Having to go for a short walk will get you fresh air, on your skin and in your lungs. 

If you think this is too little time to have an impact on your health, in your life, I would not blame you. I think most people would be sceptical of how much 10 minutes exercise/brisk walking a day would do. However would you have time to do more every day? Or would it be easier to skip with excuses of being busy? Remember this is an activity you are doing outside of your normal routine. And something you do, just for you, and who would deny you 10 minutes regardless of how your life looks?

Now if you’re looking for weight loss, it would come even with only 10 minutes a day, but it would be a slow process. So it shouldn’t be your main reason to do this – you’ll risk getting impatient and maybe give up before you see results. Your main reason should be to do something for your health on the long track. I believe you will feel happier for taking time to do something for yourself and that this will help you build healthier habits and make good choices. 

I wish you a wonderful Christmas.

Questions and comments are as usual welcome at: or via Instagram: @trainwithadane

Tania Presutti

Tania Presutti is a Danish freelance journalist and fitness professional who now resides in Clonakilty.

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