Between cooking, shopping for presents and getting the decorations up, it may seem like exercising during the holidays is next to impossible. While you may not have the free time to squeeze in regular visits to the gym, there are still many things you can do to keep active and include exercise in your daily routine.
Use the weekend for family outings that involve physical activity. Spend time playing with the kids outdoors. Thanksgiving is the perfect occasion to round up the family for a friendly football game. Or take your dog to the local park to play among the falling leaves and join in the running and bouncing. In areas where snow is abundant, go cross-country skiing or sledding. Since these are activities you need to do anyway, intensifying them or making them last longer will count toward your workout.
Make your shopping trips longer. Since you won't be able to avoid the holiday shopping, make it part of your exercise routine. Head to the mall and do a couple of laps before you even start looking at the offerings. Walk up and down the escalators, rather than just standing. Avoid taking the parking space closest to your destination and instead park a few blocks away. Any extra time you spend walking will increase your activity level. The added weight of the presents will even provide a muscle workout.
Shorten your workouts. If you can't stay in the gym for 90 minutes, consider making the workout a quick 30-minute dash in and out. For added effectiveness, consider circuit training, in which you mix a variety of exercises, one set each, without any break in between. An example is: walk for 5 minutes on the treadmill, followed by 30 jumping jacks, 15-20 ab repetitions, 5 minutes running, 15-20 bicep curls, 5 minutes biking and 3-5 minutes jumping rope. Repeat again, changing the bicep curl to a triceps exercise or a shoulder press. Continue the cycle until you reach the 30-minute mark.
Do your own winter chores. Shovel snow, chop wood or clear the fallen leaves. Carry your own Christmas tree all the way home. Even little bursts of activity throughout the day will add up.
Get a guest pass. If you're spending time with your family, chances are you won't have access to your regular gym. See if your gym has branches in the city you're visiting, or buy a day pass for something available locally. Some gyms are open 24 hours if you're too busy to exercise during the daytime.
Schedule your workout as you do everything else during the holidays and don't break the appointment. Get up 30 minutes before everyone else and go for a run, or take an aerobics or Pilates class. Knowing you will work out in a specific time period will make you more likely to stick to it.
Tips & Warnings
Keep track of your eating habits during the holidays. If you don't have much time to exercise, chances are you won't have time to cook healthy food either. Keep a supply of energy bars, fresh veggies and lean protein on hand so you can have a quick snack before or after a workout.