They say when it comes to maintaining your holiday fitness, consistency is key.
I really hope I’m not the only one out there who is consistently having to find my stretchy pants to make room from the extra stuffing on Thanksgiving and cookies from the break room this morning.
The extra calories combined with a busy holiday schedule — parties, events, family gatherings and more — can cut into even the most dedicated athlete’s gym time.
Luckily, the holiday season and the winter months offer us some really unique opportunities to sneak in fitness and movement throughout our regularly scheduled programming, making it possible to maintain our fitness level (and our pant size).
It’s still important to make exercise a priority day-to-day, but if you’re looking for a few creative ways to sneak in some extra activity, give one of these a try!
Shop at the actual mall
Amazon.com has really revolutionized holiday shopping. I don’t know about you, but I would much rather just go online and order exactly what I’m looking for rather than buy it in-store.
But, by shopping online, you miss the benefit of the physical experience of shopping. An average 150-pound woman can burn 150 calories or more per hour shopping. That’s twice what that same woman would burn while spending an hour on the couch. Add in hauling around shopping bags, navigating the crowds and taking the stairs instead of the elevators at the mall into the mix, and you could get a significant amount of movement for the day while you’re getting items crossed off your to-do list. Win-win for everyone!
Shovel your neighbors driveway too
It’s no secret that shoveling snow is hard work. Not only will it get your heart pumping, but it also engages your arms, legs and core as you power through the powder and get your driveway cleared off. Since you’re already out there, spend an extra five minutes spreading holiday cheer by clearing off your neighbor’s driveway as well. Not only will you win “Neighbor of the Year,” but your bod will thank you for the extra push too!
Add some oomph to your decorating
Anyone who has ever had to lug holiday decorations up the stairs from a basement or down from an attic knows it’s no easy chore.
The boxes are heavy and if we’re lifting them correctly, we’re getting in a few squats for the day — remember, use your legs, not your back!
Since it’s already a physical activity, it makes sense to take it up a notch to get in a workout as well. Try trimming the tree while maintaining perfect squat form. Rather than bending over to grab ornaments, squat to pick them up and then fully extend to hang each one.
If you’re using a ladder, add some movement by taking only one nail or screw with you at a time, forcing yourself to climb up and down each time you hang. Sure, it might take a bit longer, but your legs will get one heck of a workout in the process.
Have an active get together
Around the holidays, there is no shortage of booze and heavy appetizer soirees to choose from. Even if someone hosts a party with a creative theme, they’re all about the same.
Mix it up a bit by hosting a get-together with an active theme. Have a “jingle run” party where everyone laces up with jingle bells and does a 5k around the neighborhood before the gift exchange or a Christmas Light Ride, where you coast the community checking out the lights.
Hosting parties at ice-skating rinks, bowling alleys, pool halls and even community YMCAs will also provide you with a fun and different opportunity to celebrate the season with your fitness friends.
In the kitchen, do it by hand
There’s lots of handy tools in the kitchen to automate and speed up the cooking process, making our jobs easier in the process.
Electric choppers, mixers and blenders help us bake our cookies in half the time, but there are perks to doing things the old-fashioned way. Plan an extra 30 minutes in your prep time during your next baking endeavor, and plan to mix up that batch of chocolate chip cookies or mash your potatoes by hand. Your biceps, pecs and shoulders will get a workout in while you’re stirring the dough and the cookies will still taste fabulous.
Do your Spring cleaning in the Winter
The holidays are definitely the time for sharing, but it isn’t the best time to share things like dust, mold and germs. With a revolving door of guests in and out of your home at this time of the year, giving it a really deep clean can make all the difference. The best part? While you’re vigorously scrubbing baseboards, vacuuming, mopping, wiping and disinfecting, you’re engaging your whole body and could torch as many as 200 calories an hour.
Give HIIT a try
When it comes to building and maintaining fitness, nothing beats an actual workout. We know it’s hard to carve out the usual hour or more you might take daily during the holidays to get your sweat on, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get a great workout. Try a full body high intensity interval training session (HIIT) for maximum results in the shortest amount of time. Combining movements like squats, burpees, push ups, thrusters and more can burn calories, ignite your muscle building fibers and can even be done at home in your living room! Bodyrock.tv has loads of workouts to choose from and is a great resource, or you can check out the daily WOD on the Crossfit site for more ideas!
There are dozens of ways to add a little bit of extra activity to your day. Combining some of the suggestions above with the tried and true tips like always taking the stairs, parking as far away as possible, walking your dog for an extra five minutesand doing what you can, when you can will make all the difference over the holiday season.
Do you have any fun tips or tricks you use to squeeze in exercise and stay fit in December? Be sure to share in the comments below so we can all beat the bulge with you!