The dreaded holiday fitness slump typically starts with an extra helping of pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving, careens throughout December with cookies, fruit cake and other festive treats, and carries into a high-calorie celebration on New Year’s Eve. Combine the calorie overload with a hectic holiday schedule that keeps you away from the gym, and before you know it, your fitness level is creeping down while the numbers on the scale are creeping up. Don’t start a new year with your health on a downslide. Stay fit and trim by working some easy exercise into your busy days. Here are our 5 tricks for staying fit during the holidays.
Lace Up Your Walking Shoes
Walking is an easy way to keep up your fitness level. Make it a social activity by walking with a friend or family member. If the weather is too cold for an outdoor walk, combine walking with holiday shopping by heading to the local mall. Just remember to keep up a vigorous pace for at least 10 minutes at a stretch. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends at least 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week for healthy adults, so slip in a walk whenever you can.
Pop in a Video
Whether you prefer at-home step aerobics, vigorous calisthenics or a round of yoga sun salutations, there’s an exercise DVD, video game or app to get your heart pumping and your muscles humming. When you work out at home, you don’t waste time driving or parking at the gym, plus, you can wear what you want and exercise at your convenience. Make it more fun by inviting your kids or holiday out-of-town-guests to join in the workout.
Brave the Cold
If you live in a snowy winter climate, take advantage of the season. Head out with your kids, visitors or friends for an afternoon of sledding. You get the thrill of a downhill ride, then the exercise of dragging the sled back up the hill. Next, you can decorate your wintery front yard by building a big, fat snowman. And, if you really want a fitness challenge, strap on cross-country skis and go for a scenic trip through the snow. Keep in mind that using large muscle groups in cold weather actually burns more calories than working out when it’s warm, according to Dr. Ronald W. Deitrick, a science professor from the University of Scranton in a Best Health article.
Clean the house and get fit, too, as you prepare for your holiday guests. Although it might not be your idea of fun, you can burn more than 100 calories by vacuuming for a half hour, while scrubbing the bathtub burns more than 90 calories in just 15 minutes, according to the Shape website. Clear out a closet to hide gifts, make room for out-of-town visitors’ suitcases or stash winter coats — and you’ll burn calories while exercising your entire body.
Make Small Changes
Small things can add up to make a big impact, so work a few smart diet and fitness tricks into your busy day. Park at the far end of the mall rather than in the space closest to the stores when you go holiday shopping. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. While walking with bags of gifts, do a few lunges and arm lifts. Before heading to a holiday party, eat something that’s low in calories and high in fiber so you don’t devour high-calorie treats. An apple, raw carrots or a small salad are good choices.
References & Resources
Yoga Journal: How to Salute the Sun
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: More People Walk to Better health
South University: Staying Healthy and Fit Over the Holidays
Shape: Extreme Fitness: How Many Calories Did You Burn?
Shape: Spring Cleaning: How Many Calories Do You Burn Doing Chores?
Military.com: Staying Fit Over the Holidays
Active.com: 10 Strategies to Prevent the Holiday Bulge
Best Health: Fitness tips: Building a snowman can help you lose weight