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Nine ways to get active for free this Christmas

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We like to curl up inside at Christmas just as much as the next person. With the tree lights twinkling and some seriously good festive TV planned, it’s easy to forget being active.

But we do like to like blow off the cobwebs and get moving over the festive period too – and it’s also really important. Making sure we get active and do some exercise over the holidays gives our bodies a boost and it lifts our mood too.

So here are our nine ways to get active for FREE in Wales over the festive period. 

A concrete path along cliffs and next to the sea near Langland Bay

1.Walk the Wales Coast Path – or some of it!

Walking is a great way to get active – it helps us build stamina and makes our hearts healthier. And if you need some extra motivation this Christmas, why not head for the Wales Coast Path that stretches the entire length of our coastline. Just make sure you wear warm, waterproof clothing and good walking shoes or boots.

There are also sections of the Wales Coast Path that are inclusive and suitable for wheelchair users, visitors with limited mobility and families with prams and pushchairs. Just visit the Wales Coast Path website for more information on easy access walks.

Children enjoying swimming at an indoor pool.

2. Head to your local swimming pool - for free

Did you know your children can go swimming for free in Wales? Local swimming pools offer free swimming for under 16s and over 60s, too. Fun for all the family, it’s a great free activity. Contact your local public pool for more information and timetables.

Swimming is a great full body workout and it can also lower stress levels and reduce anxiety.

Man cycling up mountain road

3. Cycling’s not just for summer

Wrap up warm and enjoy an exhilarating ride to get the blood pumping. If you’re not a confident cyclist, stick to easy bike paths. Take a look at the Visit Wales website to find your nearest low traffic, family-friendly cycle route. If you like to take your bike off-road, head to your nearest, free MTB trail or BMX pump track. 

Not got a bike? There are some free bike recycling schemes in Wales such Free Bikes 4 Kids in Newport and Montgomery Energy Group’s Free Bike Scheme near Welshpool which stops bikes going to landfill and to a good home instead. You can also find free bikes on Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree – just remember to make sure it’s in good working order or head to your nearest repair café if you need some advice.

Sustrans is also piloting a scheme where people can borrow an electric bike for free. It’s up and running in Aberystwyth, Rhyl, Barry, Swansea, Newtown and their surrounding areas.

Make sure you follow these essential tips for winter cycling.

Rugged Welsh moutnains of Eryri National Path with a flowing river in the bottom left and a stone wall to the right.

4. Make Wales your natural playground

We’re really spoilt for choice in Wales when it comes to rolling hills, rugged mountains and some of the best beaches in the world. So, before you reach for the remote control again, think about pulling on your winter layers and make Wales your natural playground.

You don’t have to go far in Wales to go hillwalking – maybe trek to a hilltop castle (you’ll find some you can visit for free on the cadw website)? Or for more competent walkers, why not venture to Eryri or the Brecon Beacons?

Always check the weather conditions first and be prepared. There is some great advice on the Ramblers website.

A path between a row of trees with autumn leaves on the ground.

5. Trailrunning and biking in Wales’ woodlands

If you like to go off-grid and traffic-free, pull on your winter gear and head for Wales’ woodlands. Natural Resources Wales’ places and trails are open all year round and are free.

Its running and bike trails are waymarked and the view certainly beats the gym. Its accessible-graded walking trails follow level paths or boardwalks that are pushchair and wheelchair-friendly. 

Just remember to wear kit that suits the conditions and double check in advance on the relevant woodland or visitor centre website for any closures or diversions.

6. Kitchen disco anyone?

Turn up the music, turn down the lights and let’s get our kitchen disco started. Dancing is brilliant exercise – it helps to get all our muscle groups moving and there are plenty of free dance workouts available online.

Turning your living room into a dancefloor – or even playing charades - is also a great way to involve older relatives. For those with mobility issues, take a look at this chair-based exercise routine.

A foot on top of a football on grass

7. Inspired by the World Cup?

If you’ve been inspired by Gareth Bale and co at the World Cup in Qatar, why not begin a new Christmas tradition – a family football match? We’re not short on open space or multi-use games areas in Wales, so grab your football and let’s go.

If you prefer to shoot hoops, there are also free, outdoor basketball facilities across Wales.

8. Winter adventures

If we get a white Christmas this year, there’s endless fun to be had (and not just for the kids!) Snowball fighting and sledging is sure to get you moving. 

Need some more inspiration? There are lots of brilliant ideas in the National Trust’s list of 50 things to do before you’re 11 ¾ .

Image of someone's legs resting on top of mountain overlooking mountain view

9. Treasure Hunt (Geocaching)

Ever face the cries of “No, it’s boring” when you suggest a family walk? Yes, us too. That’s why we’ve started geocaching – an orienteering treasure hunt for all the family. The Brecon Beacons National Park has hidden 180 caches for us to discover. Meanwhile, National Resources Wales have two geocaching trails at Coed y Brenin Forest Park near Dolgellau. But you can go geocaching almost anywhere and, yes, it’s free – just look online to get started.

Just remember to wear appropriate clothing and footwear if your route involves clambering over rocks or climbing hills.

 

Hopefully our list of ways to get active for free over Christmas will help keep you moving over the festive period and into 2023. 

And if you decide to follow any of our tips, we’d love to hear about it. Get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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