Christmas can be a great time for family, food and relaxation, but it doesn’t need to derail your health and fitness journey. Our Exercise Elf can help you make the most of the season with mindful choices so that you can enter the new year feeling great. 

“Christmas is a time of year where sometimes our self-discipline is tested, our choice of food over-whelming and our motivation to move challenged. Pause as you read the following information and consider your choices:

If Betty weighs 73kg and walks at a pace of 4km/h, Betty expends 3.8kcal in one minute. For perspective, 100g of chocolate = 500kcal. Therefore, Betty would need to walk over two hours at that pace to burn off the chocolate.

Now, no one is suggesting that Betty must miss out on the chocolate, but a moderate portion of chocolate followed by a walk (or swim, or garden crochet with the grandkids) makes a winning combination.

To help you make more informed decisions about what you consume and exert this holiday season, consider the following:

Cola 330ml = 140kcal

Walking 4km/hr Cycling 30-50watts Rowing 100watts
65yr 175cm 85kg
40mins 35mins 17mins
60yr 165cm 70kg
54mins 46mins 23mins


Three slices of pizza  = 700kcal

Walking 4km/hr Cycling 30-50watts Rowing 100watts
65yr 175cm 85kg
241mins 206mins 103mins
60yr 165cm 70kg
268mins 230mins 115mins


Fish and chips 300g = 800kcal

Walking 4km/hr Cycling 30-50watts Rowing 100watts
65yr 175cm 85kg
275mins 236mins 118mins
60yr 165cm 70kg
306mins 263mins 131mins


So the take-away (pardon the pun!) message from this Exercise Elf is: if you indulge in extra calories, indulge in more movement!

However, if you return from the festive season with a new gift around your waistline, use the following as added motivation:

Estimated benefits of 10% weight loss

  • Blood Pressure
    ↓ about 10 mmHg in systolic and diastolic blood pressure in hypertensive patients
  • Diabetes
    ↓ up to 50% in fasting glucose for newly diagnosed patients
  • Pre-diabetes people
    ↓ >30% fasting or two hour insulin
    ↑ >30% insulin sensitivity
    ↓ 40-60% fall in incidence of diabetes
  • Lipids
    ↓ 10% total cholesterol
    ↓ 15% LDL (low-density lipoproteins or ‘bad’ cholesterol)
    ↑ 8% HDL (high-density lipoprotein or ‘good’ cholesterol)
    ↓ 30% triglycerides
  • Mortality
    ↓ >20% all-cause mortality
    ↓ >30% deaths related to diabetes
    ↓ >40% deaths related to obesity

(Haslam et al. BMJ 2006;333:640-642)

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