Christmas food The British football season is a long one, and Christmas is slap bang in the middle of it. As a regular player, you have a responsibility to your club and your teammates to look after yourself over the festive season period - but that’s often easier said than done. While controlling your weight during Christmas is vitally important, so is looking after your fitness and conditioning. By adopting a few health and fitness strategies during the festive period, you can have a great time whilst remaining in peak condition for the remainder of the football season.

Bring the gym into your home

Whilst it is relatively easy to keep your aerobic fitness levels high during Christmas, maintaining your body strength and conditioning can be a little trickier. Not all gyms are open over the Christmas period, and festive celebrations can leave you with little spare time for weight and resistance training. By investing in some relatively compact items of resistance and strength training equipment, you can enjoy regular workouts throughout the Christmas week. Among the items that won’t take up too much room include bone dumbbells, kettlebells, resistance bands, leg toners and doorway gym bars. Set up a makeshift gym in your bedroom, or anywhere there is enough space, and get out of bed a little earlier to get your strength training in before Christmas festivities start monopolising your time.

Enjoy an active Christmas

There are many ways to stay active and work up a sweat whilst enjoying everything that a family Christmas has to offer. If there is snow on the ground, get on your sled. If you have children in the family who received active presents from Santa, get outdoors with them. Ride bikes with the kids in your family, play in the snow, throw a frisbee or do anything that keeps you moving at Christmas Whether you go for a run every day or integrate exercise into your festivities, it’s important to stay active when it’s cold outside - even if you feel like simply curling up in front of the TV.

Organise a get-together with teammates

There is a chance that you will feel a little annoyed at having to exercise and eat healthily during Christmas. But remember; all of your teammates will be going through the same emotions. Why not share in the pain and misery by arranging a get-together right in the middle of Christmas week? You can enjoy a workout, share healthy Christmas eating tips and catch up with your friends. This could give you the motivation to maintain your healthy lifestyle when those around you are indulging in everything the festive season has to offer.

Set yourself a daily exercise goal

In order to maintain your match fitness throughout Christmas, you need to be structured and disciplined in your approach to exercise. There are countless distractions at this time of year, so working out as early as possible will help you to stay fit and moderate your body weight. Whether your exercise goals involve repetitions, times or distances, set them out in advance. Topping up your fitness levels is a lot easier than putting yourself through hell after a Christmas of indulgence and inactivity. A recent study by Harvard University has discovered that staying fit and healthy can actually reduce your appetite and steer you towards healthier food options. So, rather than deprive yourself of festive treats, use daily exercise goals to keep yourself happy and in shape.

Avoid alcohol

Alcohol is everywhere at Christmas, and it can be very hard to limit yourself to just one or two glasses of your favourite wine or beer. A lot of footballers find that complete abstinence is easier than having ‘just a couple’. Alcohol is not only highly calorific, it is a diuretic that can leave you dehydrated without you even realising it. Excessive alcohol intake also interrupts your sleeping patterns and makes you crave unhealthy foods. A Christmas on the drink could leave you lacking energy for weeks afterwards, so try to avoid it altogether. If you can’t resist temptation, however, never exceed your daily recommended allowance, which is three to four units for men and two to three units for women. Look after your body this Christmas, and you can look forward to a successful and productive New Year on the pitch.