Festive Fitness - Nine tricks for fitting in exercise over the holidays
Who has time to exercise during the holidays? You do and here's how. With holiday parties, travel and shopping, your free time is probably at an all-time low. So we've got nine simple tricks that can help keep you active, without driving you to the proverbial holiday nuthouse.
If you can get into the mindset that something is better than nothing, you'll be amazed at the results you can get.
1. Break up your routine
Research has shown that when it comes to lifting weights, a few shorter workouts can be just as effective as one long workout. Look at your normal weight lifting routine and split it up into two or three smaller pieces. Take 10 or 15 minutes, two or three times during the day and fit each piece in. You'll find you'll be able to fill your downtime that you usually waste waiting to do something else, and you'll get the same benefit as you would doing your normal, longer workout.
2. Do a little bit each day
Make it your goal to do something active each day during the month of December. You don't have to feel guilty if you can't exercise as much as you did in September, but you do have to keep your lifestyle active. Find an activity; walking, vacuuming, shopping, shoveling snow and get it done.
3. Commit to half
You're driving home past the gym. You still have four aunts, two uncles and a hairdresser to shop for, what do you do? Commit to doing half of your normal routine. Get in the gym, change your clothes and start an abbreviated workout. You'll be staying active and odds are, once you're there, you'll stay for longer than you think.
4. Walk when you can't do anything else
Just walk. Walk around the block. Walk in the parking lot. Walk up and down the stairs. Even walking in the mall counts. If you have to call your relatives, then do so on the move. When you are at the end of your rope, just tie a knot and take a walk.
5. Exercise in the mornings if possible
This is one of the more difficult ways to fit in exercise, but it is probably the most rewarding. If you can, try waking up 30 minutes earlier for just one week, and then decide if it's worth it. Exercising during the morning hours is a tough transition, but many people find that once they start exercising early, they never stop. Remember, you're going to have to push yourself during the holiday season. To get the results you want, expect to put in some effort.
6. Use your lunch break for more than eating
Don't spend a whole hour in the break room watching Days of Our Lives. Instead do a couple laps around the parking lot first and then go eat. Even if you only have 10 minutes, get out and move. Again, the theory of "a little is better than nothing" applies here.
7. Up the intensity
You can shorten your workout, but make it more difficult. Lift heavier weights and increase the speed and/or the incline on the treadmill. Forcing your body to work harder for shorter periods of time is a good way to stimulate both muscle growth and fat burning.
8. Accept what's acceptable.
Remember, 20 minutes of cardio will do. There's no need to ride the Life Cycle for an entire hour or elliptisize yourself to death. If you're busy during the holidays, shoot for a solid 20-minute workout. You will raise your heart rate long enough to promote fat burning, and you'll still have time to wrap that present for your niece.
Plus, if you miss a few days, it's not a reason to give up for the whole season. You aren't going to lose the gains you worked so hard for by missing just a few days or one week. Get back on the horse (or treadmill) and give it another shot. You know you are going to do well in January, but it's December that can really make the difference.
9. Don't set unrealistic goals.
Finally, realize that you just might not be able to do everything you are used to doing. Your exercise goal for December is to keep in the active habit and make sure you don't pile on the pounds before the New Year. Ask yourself, "Is an hour of exercise each night a realistic goal?" Don't set yourself up to fail (or worse yet, to prove that exercising is impossible during the holidays). Be realistic, and you'll be successful.