Maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle throughout the year can be a challenge even on the best of days, but adding holidays into the mix can really throw a wrench in your fitness plans. As your to-do list grows longer and longer and your calendar fills up with other commitments like office parties, family dinners, and drinks with friends, some people feel like its nearly impossible to find time to exercise.
The stress of feeling pulled in many different directions is only worsened when you feel like you’re fighting to keep up with your normal workout routine. So, how can you find the right balance between enjoying the holidays and staying active?
These practical tips will help you squeeze some activity into your holidays so you can still get the endorphin rush that comes with exercising (and not feel so rusty when you do get back into your routine) without sacrificing time with your friends and family.
1. Make a Game Plan
The holidays are a time for relaxation and getting cozy, which means exercise can often fall by the wayside if you don’t take the time to set your intentions for the season. Designating a portion of your day to fitness can go a long way toward staying in shape throughout the winter. Even if it’s just fifteen minutes during your lunch break, make sure to plan ahead and mark it on your calendar so you’re more likely to stick to it.
If you’re traveling over the holidays and plan on staying at a hotel, book one that has access to a gym and other amenities that you might not have back home like a pool or a sauna. And don’t be shy about sharing the sweat. Invite your friends or family that are traveling with you to hit up the fitness center as well so everyone can share the experience.
Take it a step further and really set yourself up for success by scheduling your workouts for the morning. This will help you avoid distractions later in the day when you might already be feeling exhausted.
2. Keep Moving
Even if you’re not hitting the gym with your regular routine, find ways to incorporate movement into your day. This can be as simple as standing at a party instead of sitting or getting the entire room moving with a dance competition. Research shows that the little things add up. Getting up to walk around or do a few squats for just five minutes every 30 to 60 minutes can reduce the risk of diabetes and other heart disease risk factors.
3. Get Out of the House
When the temperatures are dropping and the daylight is scarce, the last thing you probably want to do is leave the house. However, there are plenty of easy ways to sneak fitness into your regular chores and activities. Need to hit up the grocery store for the big Christmas dinner? Park your car at the very back of the lot so you have to walk a little farther with your cart. What about all that snow that’s been piling up in your driveway? Go the extra mile and shovel your neighbor’s sidewalk while you’re at it for a full-body workout.
Keep in mind that fitness doesn’t have to be a chore. Snowball fights, ice skating, and building snowmen are all great ways to get the family out of the house and spending time together while burning off a few of those sugar cookies. Get creative with your winter activities! Taking a walk around the block to see the neighborhood lights is a better alternative than sitting and driving.
4. Turn Traveling Into a Workout
Let’s face it; traveling can be one of the worst parts of the holidays. Between time spent bumper to bumper on the road and the long security lines at the airport, getting to your holiday destination can be a real energy zapper. Whether you’re behind the wheel or waiting for your plane at the terminal, sitting for extended periods of time can cause excess fatigue, making you feel sluggish and tired.
When you’re traveling, give yourself an energy boost by taking frequent breaks to stand up, walk around, and do some light stretching. Airport terminals are a great place to walk a few laps and you can always get in a few good toe touches at the gas station to get the blood flowing.
5. Kids Are Your Best Personal Trainer
If you have kids of your own or if you’ve spent time with a younger niece, nephew, or cousin, you know that children have endless energy. They’re like little springs, ready to bounce around at any moment and they keep bouncing until they’re absolutely exhausted. Harness that energy and turn the kiddos at your family gathering into the best free personal trainer you could imagine. Get your cardio in with some tag or a game of football.
If you’re looking to work up a serious sweat, turn yourself into a human jungle gym. Strengthen your upper body by doing push-ups and planks with a kid (or two) on your back.
6. Mix Up Your Routine
Whether you’re snowed in and can’t make it to the gym or you just don’t feel like going outside to scrape the ice off your car, you don’t have to sacrifice your entire workout for the day. Mix up your routine and surprise your body with new exercises at home. Bodyweight workouts can be done anywhere and don’t require any equipment to get in a good burn. There’s also an endless supply of instructional videos online in case you wanted to try something new like yoga or pilates, which can help strengthen your muscles and develop flexibility.
7. Expect the Unexpected
All of that being said, even the best-laid plans can fall apart. Between family events, office parties, and surprise get-togethers with friends, don’t feel bad if you miss a workout. Expect the unexpected and recognize that the holiday season comes to new strains on your time and energy levels. Brush it off and get back in the saddle the next day. Missed an evening workout? Wake up a little earlier the next day to get some gym time in! Just remember that something is always more than nothing in terms of taking steps toward a healthier, more active lifestyle.