For most people, early December through New Year’s is the busiest time of year. So it’s not surprising that between shopping for gifts, attending holiday gatherings, and seeing to the rest of your regular responsibilities, a daily fitness routine can go by the wayside. But even if your schedule is jam-packed, it doesn’t mean you should give up working out altogether. Exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle, and it’s a great way to help you maintain your weight during the holiday season — or to continue your weight loss program, if necessary. Remember, every little bit of activity can boost your health, help burn calories, and keep you energized all season long!
Make a regular exercise date with yourself — or a buddy.
The hustle and bustle of the holidays can take a toll on your health if you don’t make time to take care of yourself. As you’re preparing your holiday to-do list, take a long, hard look at your calendar and schedule in time for your workouts. It may mean taking something else off the agenda, but it will be worth it. Use your smartphone or cell phone to set reminders, so your exercise date won’t slip your mind, even on your busiest days. Working out with a buddy can also help you both stay accountable and stick with your daily fitness regimen, especially during the hectic holiday season. Carve out at least 20 minutes for cardio-conditioning or core-strengthening exercise on most days of the week. And when that’s just not possible, use the time slot on an “off” day to enjoy some quiet time, or to treat yourself to a day at the salon or spa.
Save time with intervals.
Interval exercise not only helps you burn calories and fat faster than exercising at a steady state, it also strengthens your heart and helps keep it healthy. Dr. Agatston recommends that you work in at least 20 minutes of interval exercise, in which you alternate short bursts of intense activity (15 to 60 seconds each depending on your fitness level) with easier recovery periods, on most days of the week. Walking outdoors (if it’s cold bundle up and be careful of icy patches) is the simplest way to do interval training, but you can also do intervals indoors when the weather is inclement. Try intervals on the treadmill, elliptical, or a stationary bike, or simply do some interval jumping jacks or running in place in your living room. You can also take your interval workout to the mall: Walk intervals around the perimeter before, during, or after holiday shopping.
Don’t forget your core.
On days when you’re not doing interval exercise, do some core-strengthening exercises to target the vital muscles in your back, abdomen, pelvis, and hips. These muscles are critical for posture, flexibility, balance, and stability. When you have a strong core, you’ll find that day to day activities like lifting those heavy holiday grocery bags or your luggage into the overhead become much easier. Here’s a quickie core-strengthener that will get you off the couch: Lie on the floor (on a mat if you like) with your butt against the couch and your legs at a 90-degree angle on the cushions. Put your hands behind your head and crunch up toward the couch. Perform 2 to 3 sets of 15 or as many as you’re able.
Turn chores into an exercise opportunity.
When it’s time to get the house in shape for the holidays, set a timer on the oven or your cell phone for 10 minutes, and then see how much of your house you can declutter before the buzzer goes off. This will mean dashing from room to room as well as upstairs and down. Or, while you’re waiting for the water to boil or doing the dishes, relieve the tedium with 10 leg raises to each side and 10 to the rear. Or do some counter-top pushups: Stand back, put your hands on the edge of the counter, and do some half push-ups. Start with 5 and work up from there.er goes off. This will mean dashing from room to room as well as upstairs and down.
De-stress with yoga.
Yoga is an excellent way to reduce seasonal stress while improving strength, flexibility, and balance. Set your alarm to get up a half hour earlier than usual in the morning to do a few relaxation and breathing exercises. Or make time for some deep breathing during the work day: Sit comfortably with your eyes closed and your spine straight. Allow yourself to breathe naturally for a few minutes, letting go of any tension in your body. Then, begin inhaling and exhaling deeply and slowly, counting to 6 (about 6 seconds) during the inhalation, and doing the same count for the exhalation. Repeat six to ten times, and then return to your normal breathing. If you don’t know any formal yoga exercises, pick up a video at your local rental store, find a yoga workout online, or choose a yoga on-demand program from your Cable or satellite TV options.