The Christmas Period is always a busy time when many a drink is enjoyed, but more often than not, health regimes go down the gurgler.

We all have a lot of awareness around what we eat and drink at Christmas time, but what happens with our bodies when it comes to exercise and body maintenance?

As a physiotherapist, Pilates instructor, business owner and mother, I know how hard it is to stay on top of your body over Christmas through seeing the first-hand the effects of a busy silly-season.

We have lots of clients come in during January with their tail between their legs (or rather their hands cradling a painful back!) and so a few pieces of planning can help.

Here I’ve put together my top 5 tips to Staying Healthy this Christmas.

[1] Sit down before Christmas

Just like you’d write a Christmas shopping list, write down what you want to achieve during the holidays. It might be that you have a health regime that you’re keen to keep going. It might be that you want to minimise your downturn over the Christmas period or it might be that you’re completely happy doing nothing.

If you’re managing an injury such as back or neck pain, think back to the last time your pain was quite bad and the precipitating factors that lead to this. For some, it’s inactivity. For others, it’s too much sitting at the desk which of course will be relieved by the Christmas break. Write down your goals and expectations of yourself.

[2] Make a plan

What do you have planned for the Christmas period? Make a plan that’s feasible considering your location, travel and family commitments. If you’re planning to relax at home, you’ll find that your normal health regime such as food, exercise equipment or gyms will be easily accessible.

If you’re planning to travel, how does the location impact on your health goals? A beach location may lend itself to more walks or runs on the beach. A northern hemisphere location may mean you’ll be mostly indoors. Consider carefully how your mode of travel and take note that long car trips or sitting on a plane can be as bad, if not worse than sitting at a desk. Use this information to make yourself a structured health timetable for the Christmas period and write it down!

[3] Incorporate goals into holiday fun

The beauty of Christmas is that you spend time with loved ones. Can you incorporate this into your holiday goals? If your brother-in-law enjoys jogging, could you tee-up a couple of outings to give you a new running partner? Could you start Christmas morning with a game of beach cricket? Or is it worth scheduling a post-Christmas-lunch walk around the block or a quick exercise DVD to keep you moving?

[4] Pack your fitness gear/aids

If you’re travelling what kind of equipment could you take with you? Spiky balls and theraband are two of our favourites as they fit into a suitcase and there’s lots of different stretching and strengthening exercises that can be done with them.

[5] Seek help 

Finally, if you would like some extra help pinpointing what your particular injury may need over the holidays, seek professional advice for help making a plan. Make an appointment with your physio before the silly season completely overtakes us to ensure you stay healthy this Christmas.