picture of A warm and inviting family festive table set for Christmas dinner

Experts reveal how long it will take you to burn off your Christmas dinner, plus the exercises to do so 

Zara Crawford
Authored by Zara Crawford
Posted: Saturday, November 18, 2023 - 07:00

The Christmas period has arrived, and Brits across the nation are undoubtedly excited for the day of drinking and eating well. However, it’s no secret that the abundance of food will take quite some time to burn off – but how long can you expect? 

Experts at Mirafit have analysed the calorie intake of traditional Christmas dinner foods to highlight the exercises you need to burn them and how much time it will take you. 

Starters and nibbles 

picture of A festive Christmas starter featuring smoked salmon elegantly arranged on a plate To tie you over as you await your Christmas dinner, you may indulge in traditional starters such as smoked salmon while also treating yourself to some cheese and crackers. In total, these nibbles contain 280 calories – women will have to take a walk for 58 minutes to burn this off, or for men, 49 minutes

With the free time you may have over the Christmas break, you can use this low-intensity exercise as a way to socialise – invite friends or family on your walk and pick a scenic route to make the exercise more enjoyable.  

If you’d like to fly solo while you burn the calories, head out on your own, or even take advantage of the treadmill at your gym – this way, you needn’t worry about the cold. 

Turkey dinner & all the trimmings 

picture of A natural and cozy Christmas dinner scene with a rustic touch The Christmas dinner racks up 1,499 calories, including the turkey with all the trimmings, so expect vigorous exercise to burn this off. Running burns more calories than any other exercise, so this is the most practical option – women will need to run for 2 hours and 1 minute, and men will need to aim for 1 hour and 42 minutes

Running for a long period of time may be impractical, especially if this isn’t one of your typical workouts. Spread the exercise over a few days, or you could even do so over a week; with the latter, you can incorporate other exercises into the same workout, like strength training.  

If you opt for an outside run instead of a treadmill, wear bright colours to stay visible to drivers when it’s dark. On top of this, muscles become tighter and more injury-prone in winter due to muscles contracting to conserve heat, so it’s vital to stretch properly before your run. 

Desserts to finish the feast 

While you may be stuffed after your dinner, the feast isn’t over until you’ve had dessert. With a taster of traditional desserts, including Christmas pudding, yule log, and mince pies, you’re looking at a sum of 1,172 calories; that’s an overwhelming 4 hours and 22 minutes of weightlifting for men, or 5 hours and 10 minutes for women. 

While it’s unrealistic to commit to this length of exercise in one day, it’s certainly feasible to spread it out over a week. Spending just over an hour for four days, or five days for women, is sure to burn the calories you consumed from Christmas day desserts. Alternate between upper and lower body workouts to ensure you’re targeting all areas while simultaneously allowing muscles to recover. 

picture of A delightful arrangement of festive mince pies on a decorative plate The overhead press is a great exercise to target your shoulders and triceps; here, you need to stand with a straight back, hold dumbbells with an overhand grip at shoulder height, and raise them above your head before bringing them back until your arms are straight. As well as this, try a bicep curl by holding a dumbbell with your hand facing the sky, slowly curling this up by bending your elbow, and then slowly lowering the weight back down again. 

For your lower body, try walking lunges – use either dumbbells or a barbell and repeatedly take steps forward by bending your leg until your thigh is parallel to the floor, remembering to alternate your legs for each lunge. In addition, incorporate deadlifts into your lower body workout; with your feet shoulder-width apart, hold dumbbells on both sides of your legs with your arms straight and push your hips back as you lower the dumbbells. Bring them back up slowly as you move your hips forward, and repeat! 

Drinks to celebrate the festivities 

It wouldn’t be Christmas day without mulled wine, eggnog, and even a couple of glasses of classic wine – but altogether, the combination of these drinks equates to 1,008 calories. To burn this off, women must aim for 1 hour and 24 minutes of cycling, while men must complete 1 hour and 11 minutes

picture of Two steaming glasses of mulled wine in front of a crackling fireplace Cycling can be an excellent way for the family to get together over the Christmas period. If you wish to burn all those calories in one day, pick a route with a pit stop halfway through to grab a drink or a bite to eat.  

On the other hand, if you’d rather not face the cold, you can use stationary bikes at the gym and spread the workout over two or three days. With this equipment, you can alter the intensity, resistance, and speed, and they’re a fantastic option for those with joint pain. 

Mica Moore from Mirafit has commented: “Christmas day is just around the corner, and it’s an exciting time to gather with loved ones and celebrate with delicious food and drinks. While it’s clear that the calorie intake on Christmas day is incredibly high, with 3,959 in total, it’s one day of the year when we can forget the diet and fitness goals.  

“However, fitness enthusiasts may be determined to stay in good shape despite the high-calorie consumption, so these exercise tips can guide you to help you stay on track, from upper and lower body workouts to taking a walk with the family.” 


This information was provided by Mirafit, fitness equipment providers who strive to improve accessibility and encourage participation.  



Calctool.org was used to determine the length of exercise based on NHS data that lists 85.1kg as the average weight for a male and for a 71.8kg female. 

Christmas Food No. of calories
2x turkey slices 117
3x small roast potatoes 300
1 serving of mash (100g) 88
2x pigs in blankets 550
1 serving of brussel sprouts (78g) 28
2 serving of broccoli (45g) 15
1 servings of parsnips (60g) 50
1 serving of carrots (55g) 23
1x small Yorkshire pudding 56
1 serving of stuffing (50g) 193
1 serving of gravy (100ml) 79
1 serving of smoked salmon (100g) 117
4x crackers 80
1 serving of cheese (20g) 83
1 serving Christmas pudding (100g) 327
1 serving Christmas yule log (100g) 427
2x mince pies 418
2x glasses of wine 516
1x glass of mulled wine 227




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