Thursday, December 26, 2013

Five Tips to Staying Fit Over the Holidays

The best gift you can give yourself during the holiday season is keeping on target with your health goals, such as weight management or physical fitness.  Temptations abound when friends, family, and co-workers gather for holiday feasts.  Fitting in a regular health routine, such as running, walking, gym time, or yoga sessions, gets hard when your life routines are put on a back burner in exchange for time off, vacations, and travel. These 5 holiday fitness tips can help you enjoy the celebrations with less post-holiday regret.

Santa doing yoga


Tip #1 – Make smart dietary choices


We’ve assembled a collection of tips on how to celebrate this season without adding a layer of lard to your midsection.  Navigate those “treacherous six weeks between Thanksgiving and the New Year,” as the the National Council on Strength and Fitness (NCFS) describes it, with holiday dieting tips at Tis the Season to Eat Healthy.


Tip #2 – Take what you can get


You may not have that regular block of time that you normally reserve for your daily bike ride, walk, or other exercise.  But remember, any movement is better than none;
  • Even if you only have five minutes to get physical, you can make those five minutes count by using the Tabata technique for fast fat burning. 
  • Ate too much to do a hard, albeit short, workout?  Then at least take standup breaks every 20 to 30 minutes to protect your heart and reduce fat buildup.  Learn more in our articles Is Sitting Bad for Your Health? and Make a Motion–Daily!
  • At the mall for some Christmas shopping? Keep in mind that walking up the stairs takes about the same amount of time as standing on the escalator, and less time than a slow elevator, yet burns a whole lot more calories.


Tip #3 – Make new places an adventure


When away from home for a holiday visit, it’s easy to forego your regular exercise.  This is when your imagination can make all the difference.  Before you leave home, plan out new places to go for your workout:
  • If you enjoy trails, simply google “trails near Phoenix,” or whatever city you’ll be visiting, and you’ll find many sites to guide you into new territory.
  • Or do a bit of online research to find a gym in your destination town that can substitute for hometown fitness center. 
  • If you enjoy biking but came in on a plane without yours, ask to borrow one from a relative or your relatives’ friends or neighbors.
  • For a real adventure, check to see if there are any holiday season meetups related to your preferred form of exercise.  Many towns have running groups, bike clubs, or ultimate Frisbee gatherings where you can workout and make new friends. 
To make sure these away-workouts happen, make a written plan of where you are going during your trip and when.  Also, talk with your relatives about your plans so they have a chance to not double-book your workout with a family event. 

Family walking in the snow


Tip #4 – Make inclement weather an opportunity


If you know you’ll be traveling for the holidays to a place with lots of rain or snow, plan for it rather than shy away from it.  Little known fact: humans are mostly waterproof.  Just take the right kind of outerwear to manage your body temperature, and you can take a jog or walk in just about any weather.  Just remember to play it safe; if weather will limit visibility, wear safety reflective gear or a clip-on LED flasher to make yourself more visible to others.


Tip #5 – Invite relatives


If those whom you’re visiting might be offended if you’re going off and doing your own thing to stay fit during the holiday visit, then don’t do it alone; invite them to join you!
  • Going for a walk?  Invite everyone and make it a post-feast stroll to burn calories and encourage talk.
  • Start a family holiday tradition with an organized sport, such as touch football, disc golf, or even a rousing round of ultimate Frisbee.  Even if some of your relatives are not up to the challenge of participating, they can get in on the fun by refereeing or cheering on from the sidelines – both of which are much healthier for them than zoning out in front of the television.
The fact is that most adults gain an average of a pound a year – which can add up over a decade or two – and most of that weight gain occurs while you’re celebrating during the November/December holidays.  But heed these five holiday fitness tips and you can win the battle of the bulge this holiday.


Ric Moxley
Contributing Writer


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