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Free things to do in Wales to stay active over the festive season

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With routines falling out of sync across the festive season, workouts and exercise tend to fall down your list of priorities. From winter walks to taking a dip, there are many free things you can do in Wales to stay active.

Here are some activities to get your body moving and boost your wellbeing over the holidays.

Try cold water swimming at a festive swim 

For a cold rush of endorphins, join one of the crowds at a Welsh beach for an icy swim in this unique festive tradition.

Cold water swimming is becoming all the rage with people looking for a mental health kick. But the popularity peaks in the last week of December when thousands of people take part in festive swims up and down the country.

You can take part in festive swims at Porthcawl on Christmas Day, Tenby on Boxing Day, or Abersoch on New Years Day. Or get involved with a cold water swimming community group like the Dawnstalkers or the Bluetits on other days across the holiday. 

Check out some of the festive swims in Wales you can try here. 

For more information on Open Water Swimming, visit Swim Wales.

Take the kids swimming for free

Prefer the warmth of a swimming pool than the icy temperatures of the sea? During the school holidays, children can swim for free at local swimming pools across Wales. Bring the grandparents along with you too, as over 60’s can also benefit from free or subsidised sessions. 

Splashing and swimming in your local pool is not only beneficial for your body, but it’s also a great way to clear the mind and reduce your stress levels.

Some local authorities offer free swimming for young carers and armed forces. Contact your local public pool for more information and timetables about free swimming for under 16’s and over 60’s.

Take part in a parkrun

Okay, you may have heard about the festive tradition of taking a dip in the sea but now parkrun is getting in on the act. If you’re looking for a bit of exercise with a community buzz, these 5k events will be taking place across Wales on both Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 

Newport, Llyn Llech Owain and Aberystwyth will be hosting their parkruns on both days while other venues are choosing just the one special day to plod the path. If Christmas Day and New Year’s Day are a little too busy for you, most parkruns take place at 9am every Saturday while juniors can take part in a 2k run on a Sunday.

And don’t be deceived by the name. If you prefer not to run, you can walk, jog or even be a festive volunteer – Santa hats are optional but encouraged. 

Take a look at this list to see where you can take part in a parkrun over the festive season.

Go for a casual run by yourself

A run doesn’t need to be on a special day, it doesn’t need to be organised and it doesn’t even need to be a part of a group. Sometimes you just want to get the trainers on, choose your playlist and hit the road by yourself. You can set a pace that best suits you without the worry of having to converse with a training partner.

If you’re thinking about starting running, NHS Couch to 5K can help set you on your journey. You’ll be chasing PB’s sooner than you think.

Here are some running routes recommended by clubs from around Wales.

People running at a parkrun
Everyone can get involved in a parkrun.

Workout at home

Sometimes the winter weather can scupper your fitness plans, but you don’t even need to leave your home to work up a sweat over the holidays. Whatever your fitness level and whatever the type of exercise you’re looking for, you can find a workout specifically for your needs on YouTube or online.

Search for exercises like Yoga, HIIT training and dance workouts to get the blood pumping from the comfort of your home. This is a great way to give a new exercise a go before deciding whether it’s something you enjoy. Or visit Joe Wicks channel – he has videos for everyone including chair exercises and short, interactive workout routines for kids. 

Scope has advice for those with disabilities about exercising at home. If you’re looking for home workouts in Cymraeg, check out FFIT Cymru’s YouTube Channel.

Walk along the Wales Coast Path

Lace up the boots, put on a warm coat and grab some fresh air on a leisurely winter walk. And if you’re looking for an exercise with a view this festive season, there are not many better places to stretch the legs and raise the pulse than along the Wales Coast Path. 

Everyone can enjoy a walk along the rugged Welsh coast. But don’t worry about uneven paths or rocky terrain - the 870 miles includes plenty of sections which are accessible to those who require the use of a wheelchair or a pram and suited to your fitness levels.

Visit the Wales Coast Path website to find a walk near you.

Take to the mountains

Another of Wales’ natural gifts are our mountains. There are beautiful treks and hikes for all abilities in Eryri and Bannau Brycheiniog National Parks to take advantage of to get your festive fitness fix. If you want to take on something a little more challenging, make sure to check the weather conditions, use the appropriate gear and be prepared. 

Winter walks and hill climbing aren’t just reserved for our national parks though. There are many other beauty spots where you can enjoy a stroll such as Offa’s Dyke Path, which runs along the border with England, and the Cambrian Mountains, the vast green spaces in the middle of Wales.

Check out Rambler’s top tips on mountain climbing.

Go on a treasure hunt (or geocaching)

Two weeks of school holidays and excitable children may have you seeking a fun activity to burn some of their energy. We’ve mentioned walking a lot but sometimes you need more than a stunning view to keep the kids engaged. Geocaching could be the answer!

Geocaching is an orienteering style treasure hunt you can enjoy with the family while exploring the outdoors. Bannau Brycheiniog have geocaches for you to find in the National Park or you can take on one of two geocache trails at Coed y Brenin Forest Park, near Dolgellau. But with millions of caches across the world, you don’t need to take to the mountains. There could be treasure to be found right on your doorstep!

Visit the Geocaching website to get started on your treasure hunt.

 

Make this December an active one and get moving with some of these free things to do across the festive season.

If you decide to give these activities a go, we’d love to see what you’re getting up to! Tag us in your posts on Facebook and Twitter.

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