As we enter the holiday season, most of us find our free time fading. You know the drill–a mad dash to get things in order before getting time off to relax and visit with family and friends. It’s no mystery that after scheduling time to shop, go to holiday parties and yes, work your regular job, fitness often takes a backseat.
But it doesn’t have to.
Experts now know that skipping just a week or two from exercise can reduce the health and fitness gains you made in the previous few months.
The good news is that research has also shown it doesn’t take a lot of activity to maintain your current fitness level.
In this article, we’ll explore seven fitness tips to help keep you healthy during a hectic holiday schedule. The result will be less stress, increased energy, and the flexibility to enjoy delicious holiday desserts without feeling guilty.
Tip 1: Anytime exercises
We often miss workouts because of time, lack of equipment, or both. That won’t happen with this list of equipment-free exercises to create your own personal workout circuits (more on that later). This keeps your body guessing while making it fun and challenging.
- Jumping Jacks – This is a great exercise to get your heart rate up so you can burn more calories all day long.
- Stand with feet together and with your arms by your sides.
- Jump feet and arms out together and raise your arms so they meet overhead.
- Jump feet back together and lower arms back down to your sides.
- Do 10 reps, working up to 20 reps.
- Push-Ups – this is a great upper body exercise that builds muscle and strength in the chest, shoulders, and triceps (back of arms).
- Start in a high plank position with your wrists under your shoulders and abs tight.
- Lower knees to the floor.
- Bend elbows and move your torso toward the floor. Go as low as you can
- Push through palms to straighten arms.
- Do 5 reps, if this a new exercise, you can start with your knees on the floor, work up to 15 reps then go back to 5 reps keeping knees off the floor.
- Bodyweight Squats – this is a great lower body exercise that builds muscle and strength in the legs, hips, and butt
- Stand with feet hip-width apart.
- Bend at hips and push your butt back and down to lower into a squat.
- Keep your chest lifted and abs tight. Push through your heels to return to standing.
- Do 10 reps, work up to 20 reps.
- Plank Taps – This is an excellent core exercise that builds muscle and strength in your abdominals
- Start in a high plank position (knees on the floor) with your wrists under your shoulders and abs tight.
- Lower knees to the floor.
- Touch opposite hand to opposite elbow or shoulder.
- Do 10 reps, working up to 15 reps (alternating hands each time).
- Runner’s stretch – This stretch is great for the lower body, especially the hamstrings and hips. Stand with your feet hip-width apart.
- Step back with your right leg and place both of your hands on the ground on either side of your left foot, about shoulder-width apart.
- Lower your hips until you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip and leg. Hold for 45 seconds.
- Slowly straighten your front leg, keeping your hands planted on the floor. Don’t worry if you can’t get your leg completely straight. Hold for 45 seconds.
- Repeat on the other side.
Tip 2: 10-minute workouts
Armed with the anytime exercises listed above you can put these together into efficient 10-minute full-body workout circuits. These fast and flexible workout sessions will bring you the benefits of cardio, resistance training, and stretching in the least amount of time. You can split these workouts into two 5-minute workouts for even greater flexibility (more on this later)..
Tip 3: Create your circuit
Pick any 4 of the anytime exercises above and do them all in a row. Then rest one full minute and repeat. Do as many sets as possible in 10-minutes. If you’re advanced, you can run your circuits for 15 to 20 minutes. TIP: By focusing on reducing the rest between each exercise, you can scale this workout to match your own personal fitness level. Start with a rest period between exercises that bring your breathing back to where you could carry a conversation with someone, then begin the next exercise.
Tip 4: Break for 5
same as above, but this time each workout takes only 5-minutes. Pick any 2 of the anytime exercises above and do them in succession. Then rest 15 to 30 seconds and repeat. Do as many sets as possible in 5-minutes.
Tip 5: Plan for your destination
Holiday travel is infamous for making it hard to get a workout. The trick is knowing where you’ll be so you can create exercise options for those surroundings. If you aren’t staying at home for the holidays, the following list of common places and questions will help you plan your workouts before your trip.
- When staying at a hotel or with friends and family, check their fitness center hours or if fitness equipment that they will allow you to use.
- Scout for nearby hiking, walking, or running spots.
- Ask about local gyms or fitness centers and see if they offer guest passes.
Tip 6: Explore workout adventures
If you’re traveling and find that you will have access to some exercise equipment, running paths, or hiking trails, you can make up several workout adventures. This way you’ll get to take advantage of different equipment or surroundings to keep your workouts interesting and challenging. Don’t totally exhaust yourself since you’ll want to have some energy to socialize. A simple 10 to 30-minute program is enough to keep you on track until you can get back to your usual routine.
Tip 7: Stash Healthy Snacks
A busy holiday schedule can make it harder to keep up with a healthy nutrition plan. The “antidote” for this is to stash a personal supply of portable nutrition bars, not only to fuel your day, but also keep your appetite in check. You will be less likely to gorge on too many desserts and excess calories that are often part of the holidays.