Getting holiday exercise done can be so hard. ‘Tis the season of letting our exercise slide and doing everything else first! I had an early Thanksgiving last week, traveling out of state to my daughter’s home and unfortunately got a jump-start on the slide. It’s shocking how the combination of tasty food and hours in the car makes my fitness go downhill, and fast. (But we had a wonderful time!)
So, I’m going to take a few minutes to plan my Thanksgiving through New Year’s holiday exercise program before I fall off the exercise wagon completely! I thought I’d share 6 tips that work for me:
#1. Best of all, get a friend to come along, whether it’s a walk, bike, cross-country ski, swim, or lifting weights. That date with a friend keeps me accountable.
#2. Schedule exercise the night before. So often, we wait for a break in the day and hope exercise will happen. The night before, designate a specific time when you’ll exercise. Better yet, make a plan for the whole week on a Sunday and review it the night before. If all of your best-laid plans flop, default to #6!
#3. Get your equipment and clothing ready the day ahead. If being outdoors is what gets you moving, have your gloves, hat, warm pants and coat ready and waiting. If you only have 15 minutes to exercise, you don’t want to take 5 minutes, a third of your exercise time, rooting around in the closet looking for your mittens. If you’re planning on meeting friends for a bike ride, pump up your tires and get the bike rack on the car the night before. If it gets cold enough for snow, get those skis prepped! If it’s too cold, get your indoor equipment ready to go.
#4. Do your cardio in short bits of time if you can’t schedule a longer activity. Decades ago, it was thought that you should exercise for at least 30 minutes to get the full benefit. Now, many studies show that even small bits of exercise add up and give the same good health benefits as long workouts. Grab those 5 minutes throughout your day and it will probably amount to the recommended 30 minutes a day.
#5. Fit in some balance moves—simply standing on one foot helps build balance.
#6. If you can’t get out for a walk, at least stand up often! If you’re at a desk, stand up and down 10 times in a row to rev up your metabolism, give your muscles some movement, and remind your bones to stay strong. Find excuses to get up, like when answering the phone, reading, or watching TV. Ask for a stand-up desk for Christmas or Hanukkah. I often put my laptop on a sturdy file box and wear athletic shoes to keep my feet padded and comfortable. My mini-stepper adds some intensity for standing and typing.
Best wishes making time for exercise during the holidays. Let us know how you fit it in!