Exercise boosts our energy levels and helps to reduce any stress and anxiety that may be brought on due to the holidays. With all of the things that are usually added to our to-do lists during the holiday season, it’s important to block out time in our busy schedules and reserve it for moving our bodies.
As you’ll see, there are many ways to stay active this holiday season, other than working out at a gym or fitness center. So, let’s get creative with how we exercise and start moving.
Get Up And Moving Earlier
The best time to workout is whenever you can. But if you’ve been struggling to create a fitness routine for yourself during the holidays, try to get up and moving early in the morning. Exercising in the morning can help you establish a fitness routine and stay consistent with it because working out in the morning leaves less room for excuses.
If you’ve looked outside your window around 4:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. any day recently, you know that ever since Daylight Savings Time ended it gets dark out early. This may make it harder to go outside and get moving after work for a variety of reasons such as being worried about your safety due to poor visibility, feeling extra cold since you don’t have the day’s sun overhead to warm you up, or maybe the darkness at night destroys your motivation, stopping you from leaving your bright and warm home. Research also suggests that a morning exercise routine can shift your circadian rhythm so your body will become more alert in the morning and more tired in the evening. This will help you fall asleep earlier so you can exercise again in the morning.
Schedule Your Workouts
While your schedule may not be your own during the holidays, it’s important to take advantage of any time that you do know you have for yourself.
“Sitting down on the weekend and planning your workouts for the week ahead can be the most effective 15 minutes you spend on your health and fitness,” according to HuffPost. “By writing your workouts into your schedule, you’ll be more likely to regard them as protected time and actually do them.”
The Mayo Clinic recommends scheduling your workouts and putting them on the calendar the same way you would any other appointment during the day. The key is to stick to your schedule the best you can, and try not to change your exercise plans because of interruptions that come along during the day. “Just stay flexible by checking in a couple of times during the week to make adjustments as soon as you know about things that have popped up,” according to HuffPost. “This lets you create a back-up plan for those extra busy days, rather than being caught off guard and having to ditch your workout.”
Embrace The 10- To 20-Minute Rule
Since your time is limited during the holidays, it’s important to make the most of it. Instead of focusing on long two-hour workouts, embrace the 10- To 20-Minute Rule. This means planning shorter 10 to 20 minute workouts for yourself such as running, jogging, or walking. High-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are also ideal when you don’t have a lot of time.
Remember, it’s not the amount of time that you have for working out that matters. It’s what you do with your workout time that’s important.
Clean Your House
If you’re hosting an event this holiday season, chances are you’ll need to clean your house anyway. So, why not make cleaning part of your exercise routine for that day?
“Set aside several hours one day and REALLY clean your house,” according to University of Nebraska-Lincoln. “Bending, squatting, running up and down stairs, standing while folding and putting away your laundry, etc. all burn calories. Get workouts the old-fashioned way – by working out!” Cleaning your house, while exercising, is an excellent way to multi-task this holiday season.
Make The Most Of Snowy Weather
Is there snow on the ground? Good! Go outside and play with your family. You can build a snowman, make snow angels, or even have a snowball fight.
“Snow is a favorite piece of ‘fitness equipment’ during the holiday season,” according to ACTIVE. “If you are going to be surrounded by snow this year, take advantage of it.”
You may also choose to participate in winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, or ice-skating. Or if those activities don’t interest you, you can always “grab a shovel and start clearing the driveway – it’s a great full-body workout,” according to ACTIVE.
Find An Exercise Buddy
If you’re having trouble getting started or sticking with your exercise plan, reach out to some friends in order to find an exercise buddy. A huge plus is that you don’t even need to work out in the same physical space to get results.
A study from Michigan State University found that working out with a virtual partner improves motivation during exercise; and those who exercised with a more-capable virtual partner performed the exercise 24 percent longer than those without a partner.
“One of the key hurdles people cite in not working out is a lack of motivation,” says Deborah Feltz, the leader of the study and chairperson of MSU’s Department of Kinesiology. “Research has shown working out with a partner increases motivation, and with a virtual partner, you are removing the social anxiety that some people feel working out in public.” This also creates an opportunity for you to connect and stay in touch with a close friend (or friends) during the holidays. And since you’ll both have a shared a goal, it’ll keep you and your exercise buddy excited and motivated to stay active during the holidays.