Nothing is easier than making up excuses to avoid exercising during the holiday season, yet exercise is especially important this time of year. Why? It reduces stress, boosts the immune system, encourages body awareness, and burns calories from the abundant supply of food that seems to go hand-in-hand with the holidays.
The top 3 excuses for skipping workouts this time of year are traveling, family/friends in town, and too busy/not enough time. These tips will enable you to stay healthy, fit and strong through the holiday season.
1. “Family visiting” solutions:
- Plan a group activity (hiking, biking, skiing, rock climbing, exercise video, golfing).
- Bring them to the gym with you. Taking a class with family members can be a lot of fun. If fitness levels vary too much, strength training side by side may be better than taking a class together. You can still visit AND get in some exercise. TIP: Make plans with your family/friends before they travel to see you so that you can agree on activities to do together and they can bring proper clothing and footwear.
- Try a new activity together. This could be the perfect opportunity to try something new that you’ve been too intimidated to try in the past. Do some research before your family comes to town so that you can spend more time enjoying the activity and less time trying to figure out what to do.
2. “Traveling” or “visiting family” solutions:
- Bring a TRX! This suspension training device is compact & lightweight, making it the perfect tool for traveling workouts. Take it to the tropics or take it to Aunt Ruth’s. Either way, you’ll get a great workout in a small space and in a short time. Click here for some great TRX exercises with video demonstration.
- Find a locally inspired activity (i.e. walking or jogging to certain landmarks, swimming/snorkeling/surfing/beach walking or jogging, skiing/snowboarding/snow shoeing/ice skating, local dances, gym classes different than ones you can take back home).
- Do bodyweight exercises. If time or money is prohibiting you from being active, try these exercises that you can do anywhere!
3. “Too busy” or “not enough time” solutions:
- Prioritize and compromise. Yes, the holidays are a busier time of the year, but they happen EVERY YEAR. Are you going to make excuses, miss workouts, gain weight and lose strength every year?! I didn’t think so. Make your health and fitness a priority while still allowing some room to compromise. For example, if you normally exercise 3 times/week for an hour, it’s preferable to cut your workouts a little shorter over the holiday season rather than eliminating them all together. If you increase the difficulty, you won’t lose progress either!
- Try some burst training. This type of training method capitalizes time savings by kicking the challenge up a couple of notches.
- Set aside 5 minutes for yourself first thing in the morning. If that is all you can truly make time for, it’s better than nothing! Depending on your current health and fitness level, you can do a lot of exercises in rapid succession in 5 minutes. Forget your cup of coffee: you won’t need it after 1 set of 15 reps each of jumping jacks, squats, lunges, pushups, triceps dips and abdominal planks!
- Weave some fitness into your day. Waiting for a document to print? Drop and give me 20! Oven timer has a couple of minutes left? Do some squats and/or lunges. On hold on the phone? Do some calf raises. Get the picture? Where there’s a will, there’s a way! You don’t have to be “perfect” to be healthy and some exercise is better than no exercise.
If you are feeling especially depleted over the holidays, you will benefit from exercises that build and restore your energy such as tai chi, qigong, and yoga. Listen to your body and do what feels right to you. Happy and healthy holidays!