When the holidays come around, schedules get packed and cookie trays are everywhere. That can make it more challenging to stick to your nutrition and fitness routines, but sneaking time in to exercise can have huge benefits, from lowering holiday-related stress to minimizing the impact of all those delicious treats. Keep these 12 strategies in mind when you’re ready to move:
1. Condensed Workouts
If you have 10 minutes, you have enough time to exercise. Rather than moderate-intensity cardio like a long run, opt for high-intensity interval training (HIIT) sessions that alternate short periods of all-out exercise with brief recovery periods. For example, one you can do anywhere is sprinting—after a few minutes of an easy warm-up, start alternating 20 seconds of sprints with 10 seconds of rest. Repeat until you’re a sweaty mess, and then do a few minutes of cool down.
2. Bodyweight Exercises
During the holidays, it’s not always easy to find time to get to the gym, but a bigger focus on using your own bodyweight means that you are the gym. With bodyweight exercises, your own weight provides resistance. Mix together options such as squats, lunges, glute bridges, plyo jumps, bear crawls, and other impactful moves to work multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
3. Mix Up Your Classes
Maybe you’re a regular CrossFitter, but you’re home for the holidays and there’s no box in town. Consider this a great opportunity to shake up your routine by taking different classes. Consider yoga, barre, spin, boot camp, or other choices. Changing your exercise routine has numerous benefits, including injury reduction, more muscle recruitment, and cognitive advantages.
4. Focus On Your Core
If you’re really crunched for time, sneak in some core work. Not only will these exercises make you better at any sport you do, but they also improve balance and stability. Best of all, there are numerous core workout options, from isometric choices to Pilates, so you can vary your routine to keep from getting bored.
5. Swim Some Laps
Hotel weight room lacking equipment? Hit the pool instead. Not only is swimming a low-impact workout, but it’s also been shown to lower blood pressure and control blood sugar—two important benefits if you’re dealing with holiday stress and overindulgence.
6. Embrace Winter Sports
From cross-country skiing to snowshoeing to frosty runs, there are plenty of options when the weather turns chilly and the snow piles up. Just be sure to check weather conditions, be more mindful of road and sidewalk ice if you’re running, and layer your clothing appropriately. Also, don’t forget to stay hydrated—it’s common to under-hydrate in the cold. With proper preparation, you can embrace the winter and get a killer workout.
7. Gamify Your Chores
As you’re running errands, cleaning your house for guests, putting up decorations, and cooking a feast, you can be working out at the same time. No matter what your chores might be, create mini workouts by slipping in extra moves like squats and lunges. Park at the end of a lot when shopping, or do a balance practice by coming up on the balls of your feet as you’re waiting in a checkout line.
8. Create an Indoor Workout
Even if you’re an outdoor enthusiast, the weather doesn’t always cooperate with your plans. Having a go-to indoor workout that incorporates strength and cardio is helpful, especially if you can make it into a routine that’s under 15 minutes.
9. Start Weight Training
The holiday season might be a great time to put more focus on weight training because it often requires less time than cardio and creates a steady calorie burn that can offset heavier meals and desserts. If you already do a fair amount of weight lifting, this might be the time to switch up your routine to get to a new level of muscle challenge.
10. Change Up Your Cardio
The holiday season tends to shift your priorities, making it an ideal time to take a good look at what you’ve been doing the rest of the year and to consider a fresh approach. For cardio, that might mean swimming instead of running, or HIIT instead of steady-pace exercises. Maybe this is the year to ask Santa for kettlebells and a jump rope?
11. Hit the Machines
For a solid, classic workout that takes the edge off the holidays, machines like treadmills and rowers can be incredibly useful. You don’t need to spend hours on them, either. Utilize a HIIT technique of alternating high-intensity with rest, and you can be more efficient with your time. For example, instead of slogging through miles on the treadmill, use it to run sprints.
12. Play More
Although tracking your data like sets, reps, miles, and heart rate is useful for creating a sense of progress in your fitness routine, consider taking a break from goal setting and simply play—on your own or with friends and family. Do some somersaults, re-learn the monkey bars, climb some trees. Adult recess has tons of benefits, from sharpening your brain to quashing your stress response.
Whatever you choose, it helps to have a workout plan for each week and fit the holidays into that—instead of the other way around, where you’re trying to wedge exercise time into your schedule when you can. Making holiday workout plans into a priority can help keep you motivated and on track.