The UK government is urging families to bring back the Christmas day walk to burn off their Christmas dinner calories, and generally be more physically active over the holidays.

A typical Christmas dinner of turkey and pudding clocks up nearly 1,500 calories, which is over half of the recommended daily allowance for a man and three quarters of that recommended for a woman, says the Department of Health for England, in a new push to promote Walk4Life as part of its Change4Life campaign to encourage families to “eat well, move more and live longer”.

If every person in England walked their local streets, fields or beaches after their dinner on Christmas day, this would add up to 50 million miles, they said in a statement.

Public Health Minister Gillian Merron told the press that:

‘Whatever the weather, a traditional festive walk is a great way for families and friends to avoid that sluggish feeling and have a more active Christmas.”

“Being more physically active can make a real difference to your health – taking that extra walk is something we can all enjoy as a family,” she added.

If you eat a typical Christmas dinner you are likely to consume around 1,470 calories, says the British Nutrition Foundation, for example:

2 slices of turkey (with skin)225 kcal
Sausage meat stuffing 185 kcal
4 small roast potatoes400 kcal
Serving of sprouts (boiled)30 kcal
Serving of roast parsnips100 kcal
Serving of gravy50 kcal
Portion of Christmas pudding330 kcal
Tablespoon of double cream150 kcal
Total 1470 kcal

Walk4Life has teamed up with The Ramblers to get families on their feet and walk at Christmas by releasing their top ten English walks, including one round famous London landmarks, another that goes through the Birmingham bog that Tolkien based the hobbits’ Shire home on, and a wildlife walk in Highfield Country Park, Manchester.

Tom Franklin, The Ramblers Chief Executive, said it was important to:

“Make the best of the short daylight hours by getting out of doors, helping you walk off the mince pies and avoid the post-Christmas blues.”

He said there are over 850 free led walks taking place across Britain between Boxing Day and the 3rd of January.

These include least 300 walks under 5 miles, themed “cake walks, tipsy toddles, and fancy dress strolls”, and over 100 walks for people in their 20s and 30s.

— The Ramblers winter walks

Source: Dept of Health, NHS Choices, The Ramblers.

Written by: Catharine Paddock, PhD