Staying healthy during the holidays is always a challenge. Between tempting treats and last-minute shopping trips, your weekly meal prep and workout schedule tend to get tossed to the wayside.
Not to mention, longer nights and shorter days make staying in a much cozier option than getting up and working out. Add in the combination of family gatherings, work parties and cross-country travel and you may find yourself gaining a few unwanted pounds.
But even if your schedule is jam-packed, it is still important for your complete health to integrate some type of physical activity into your daily routine.But even if your schedule is jam-packed, it doesn’t mean you should give up working out altogether. But even if your schedule is jam-packed, it doesn’t mean you should give up working out altogether. In fact, staying active (at least 30 minutes each day) can increase your energy levels, reduce stress and tension, and of course, help mitigate the extra calories you may be consuming.
Here are eight motivational tips on how to incorporate fitness into your holiday for optimal health — in body, mind and spirit.
1. Get the Whole Family Involved
Use this time as an opportunity to bond with family members and exercise in a group setting. One of the best ways to keep moving during the holidays is to involve the whole family in your activities.
Instead of heading to the couch to pass out in a food coma, gather everyone and head to the yard or park to play touch football, capture the flag, basketball or hide and seek for the little ones. Seasonal recreations such as ice skating and sledding are suitable for all ages and are also fantastic ways to get the heart pumping.
2. Opt for a Walk
Walking is a low-impact exercise that offers limited strain, making it another great activity for everyone in the family. As much as you can, wear comfortable running walking shoes so you can get moving whenever possible.
Take a nature walk during the day to explore the natural beauty around you. Pop a casserole in the oven and head out the door for a quick walk while it’s baking. After every meal, encourage a 30-minute stroll around the neighborhood. If you’re traveling or going on vacation, explore a new city on foot instead of in a car or by public transportation.
3. Join a Holiday Fun Run
There are tons of family-friendly holiday-themed running events in most areas. Preparing for a run, walk or obstacle course race will help you stay motivated to work out. Sign up the whole family for a fun and festive Turkey Trot, Rudolph Run or Jingle Jog. Add in the silly costumes and before you know it, the annual race will become a family tradition.
4. Plan Ahead
If you're traveling, planning ahead can make all the difference. Take some time to figure out what your options are so that you are ready for anything. Inquire about temporary gym memberships or see if you can be an "add-on" to your family member's existing membership. Look up information about the hotel you're staying at and find out if they have an exercise room.
If you would rather be outdoors and are traveling somewhere warm, look up running routes and hiking trails in the area. If you're staying with family, ask if they have any fitness equipment. Plan simple workouts that don't require much space or equipment. If you're traveling or have visitors, you may be able to slip in a workout in the basement without bothering anyone.
5. Be Prepared
From your child’s class parties to travel time to the grandparents’ house, by now you will likely have an idea of what your schedule will look like, including with your fitness activities, throughout the next month. But with the busy holiday season, comes unpredictable shopping trips, airport runs, and other last-minute errands.
While you may have good intentions to maintain your workout regimen, it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. Create a 10-minute routine that you could do right in your bedroom while waiting for company to arrive or have a quick fitness video to do while the turkey is roasting.
6. Shop Until the Calories Drop
With a mile-long list of gifts and other festive items to buy, it’s easy to turn your shopping trip into an opportunity to get physical. Park in the farthest parking lot so that you have a good distance to walk. Lace up your favorite walking shoes and join the holiday shoppers as you powerwalk from store to store throughout the mall and shopping center. Even if you don’t have anything to buy, there will be plenty of people watching!
7. Clean House
Set aside several hours one day and thoroughly clean your house. Bending, squatting, sweeping, vacuuming, walking up and down stairs and doing laundry are all great ways to sneak in a good workout. Raking the leaves and other yard work are also efficient in building muscle and breaking a sweat. Aside from burning calories, these activities will keep your home looking clean and tidy while leaving you more room for holiday fun.
Staying active during the holidays takes significantly more effort than at other times of the year, but is certainly an achievable goal—especially if you follow the tips above. These simple hacks will help you manage the natural holiday stress and maintain a healthy life during the joy of the holiday season.
Start mapping out your holiday fitness plan now so you’ll be fully prepared to work through the hectic times ahead. If you need help achieving your holiday fitness goals, check out Florida Hospital’s Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation program for help in creating a personalized fitness routine.