Written by: Emily Lind
Medically reviewed by: Rob Philibert, MD PhD
The holiday season is one of the most anticipated times of the year. But in the hustle and bustle of the Season of Giving, it’s easy to lose track of personal fitness goals. Exercise is important for boosting our heart health, but how can we stay active during the most wonderful time of the year?
Exercise During Found Time
Even though we get time off work during the holidays, it’s hard to really catch a break. Between cooking, cleaning, decorating, traveling, and spending time with the family, it can be hard to squeeze in a full workout.
Thankfully, as little as 10 minutes of exercise per day can improve your health. One great strategy is to wear your running or workout shoes around the house while cooking. This way, you can have a quick HIIT or Tabata-style workout while waiting for the oven to preheat.
Don’t underestimate the energy it takes to really clean the house when company’s coming. Cleaning can burn 200 calories per hour! Simple tricks like lunging while vacuuming, standing on one leg when scrubbing, or staying in a cat-cow position while washing baseboards can help you burn even more. Applying the same principles to decorating the house for the holidays are also great ways to exercise. These types of functional exercises can work your core, improve your balance, and help you achieve your health goals.
Build Exercise Into Your Travel:
Few things make you wish for a nice long walk more than being stuck in economy class on a packed airplane. Even worse is the threat of delays or missed flights, which 60% of Americans consider to be the most stressful part of air travel. Unfortunately, delays are likely this holiday season.
It’s hard to be holly and jolly while trapped in a terminal with only Dunkin Donuts to keep you going. Luckily, exercise can help you reduce stress. If you’re flying to reach your destination for the holidays, make the most of it. Consider walking through the airport instead of using the people-movers. If you’re stuck with a delay, a quick 10-minute workout between flights can help you keep in the festive spirit.
It also helps to research exercise options before arriving at your destination. For example, look into local walking trails, or find out if there’s a branch of your gym in the area. Having a workout plan removes excuses to not exercise, and makes sure that you pack everything you need. Planning exercise during travel can also help you to schedule time for yourself — a real treat if you’re bunking with 15 close relatives in the same bungalow!
Schedule Activities With Your Family:
Preplanning activities is a great idea if you are the host too. Group physical activity is known to increase bonding.
If you have an ice rink or safe skating pond nearby, consider asking guests to bring their skates. You can also go sledding or cross country skiing if you live in hilly areas. If you live somewhere that doesn’t have a snowy holiday season, never fear. There are plenty of holiday activities that work better in warm weather, like walking around the neighborhood to go caroling or view holiday lights. But if the weather outside is frightful, there’s still plenty of ways to engage in fun family bonding. A holiday dance party, musical chairs, charades…. The list goes on!
Wrapping it up…
It’s good to take a well-deserved rest during the holiday season, but it can also be lots of fun to stay active and make exercise part of your Holiday routine. Integrating any of these simple tricks into your plans is sure to make the season happy and bright!