Posted in Outdoor

What better way to create magical memories than spending time outdoors? Here's why you should be getting active with the family over the festive season.

Ever got into a Christmas slump? Stuffed to the gills and zonked out on the sofa? Boring isn't it?

It’s time to create some new traditions. Get outside with your nearest and dearest and put the sparkle back into Christmas.  

Here are our favourite ways to re-energise.  

Join a Christmas Day or Boxing Day dip

Inject some energy into Christmas morning. Before you open a single present.

Or liven up Boxing Day. Because it's never that exciting is it? 

The Festive Dip has been a tradition in the UK for over 100 years. Join the thousands who have already made it a yearly tradition to see why. 

What does cold water swimming do to your body? 

The shock of the cold water stimulates a ‘fight-or-flight' response.  

Your body releases the stress hormone cortisol. At the same time, beta-endorphin hormones relieve pain and give you a sense of euphoria. 

In fact, in 2000 scientists in Prague found that an icy dip can boost the 'happy hormone' dopamine by 530%. Great if Mariah Carey has almost pushed you to the end of your tether.

There's also growing evidence that cold water swimming boosts the immune system. Much needed when we spend so much time in crowded places over Christmas.

Plus, there’s the Christmas spirit of the whole thing. Followed by a hot drink and a mince pie. Is there a better way to start the festivities? 

Festive Christmas Boxing Day Swim

Take a festive family walk 

Can’t agree on which movie to watch next. Honestly, you’ve seen them before.

Not getting more than a grunt from the kids? Tear them away from the screen, nip family feuds in the bud and get outside.  

You could keep it local and tour the most festive displays in the neighborhood. Or get out in the countryside for a bracing hike.

What an opportunity to put all those Christmas jumpers to good use.

What are the benefits of walking together? 

Humans weren't meant to sit in front of the TV for hours. If you're sick of hearing about aches and pains, it's a great reason to suggest a walk.

Your hamstrings and glutes can become shortened from sitting too long. That's why they can feel tight and sore when you get up to raid the Quality Street.

A walk will re-engage those muscles and have everyone feeling much better in no time.

The fresh air can increase oxygen in the brain which boosts serotonin. That’s one of the happy feel-good hormones.  

Being out in nature also helps to lower levels of the stress hormone Cortisol. So much so that the NHS is looking into prescribing time outdoors for better mental health.  

Family walk in snow outdoors christmas

Go for a festive run

How good does it feel to run with friends? A perfect way to reconnect with loved ones outdoors we reckon.

As much as we love family time, being cooped up inside with them can ignite tensions.

Heading out to a Santa Dash or Christmas Parkrun gets everyone outside. And you'll see other people outside the Christmas bubble.

Did we mention it's also an excuse to dress up? So don those Santa hats and spread some Christmas cheer.

Does running in the cold have any benefits? 

Nobody should feel guilty about all that delicious Christmas food. But if you're worried, running in the cold burns more calories.

That's because your body is working harder to keep you warm. And the good news is that the effect continues afterwards as your body gets back to normal.

It's also another great way to get out in nature. And who doesn't need a bit of a stress buster over the festive season?

In fact, numerous studies have demonstrated the mood-boosting benefits of running.

Take the kids along and you might even tire them out - leaving the grown-ups to enjoy a well-earned mulled wine in peace.

Santa dash 2022


Tap here to find a Santa Dash near you 

If any of the kids got a bike for Christmas, this is probably non-negotiable. Who can forget the excitement of getting a new bike for Christmas?

Quieter roads on Christmas Day make it the perfect time to get the gang out for a ride. If you're committed to a challenge like the Festive 500, it's a great time to drop the pace and enjoy some company. The miles still count. 

The best thing about a Christmas ride is sharing the festive spirit. You're bound to encounter runners, walkers and other cyclists decked out in seasonal garb.

So throw some tinsel or fairy lights on the bike and pack the mince pies. And don't forget to wish everybody a Merry Christmas!

Is it healthy to cycle in winter?

There's no need to keep everybody inside when it's cold. Start the kids young to get them used to riding in winter. 

Cold weather triggers a surge of oxygen to the brain. This boosts production of mood-enhancing hormones.

Good moods all round means a happy family Christmas.

Can't persuade the family along for the ride. It's worth sneaking out if you need a mental break from the family. 

They'll benefit from your better mood when you return.

Cycling Santas Sustrans bike ride

Tap here for our guide to the Festive 500 

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Photo credits

Santa dash (banner) - James O'Hanlon / Christmas swim - unkle_sam / Family walk - Jason Mullins / Santa dash - The Co-Op Group / Cycling - Cycling Santas





About the author

NChamanian's picture
Nassrin Chamanian
Published on: 24 Nov 2022

Pretty OK at bikes. Enthusiasm outstrips ability.