The holiday season brings a unique level of busyness and stress to everyone’s lives, often with the expectation that everything needs to be checked off a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Amidst the chaos, it can be helpful to maintain habits that focus on your overall health and well-being—even if those habits look different than the rest of the year.
Staying active and maintaining a semblance of an exercise routine may seem like an impossible task with a calendar full of holiday parties and family obligations. But there are some small, low-maintenance ways to stay active throughout the holiday craze that will not only contribute to your physical health but might also be the mental reprieve you crave.
3 WAYS TO PRIORITIZE FITNESS DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Use these strategies to stay active and fit while you enjoy the holidays. Even if you don’t exercise as much as you do during the rest of the year, getting some activity will provide benefits.
PLAN YOUR WORKOUTS AHEAD OF TIME
If you’re traveling, planning ahead can make all the difference. Take some time to figure out what your options are so you’re ready for anything.
- If you’re staying with family, find any nearby gyms and ask if they let guests use their facility, or sell day passes.
- Ask family or friends if they have any fitness equipment you can use.
- If you’re staying in a hotel, find out if it has an exercise room.
- Plan simple workouts that don’t require much space or equipment.
- Search for walking, running, or park trails nearby.
- Talk to your family in advance and suggest taking a walk or doing something active together.
Try to plan your workout schedule beforehand. Even if you have to change it (which is likely when you’re traveling), you’ve already made a commitment to exercise. It’s easier to stick with it when you have it planned than to squeeze it in later.
MAKE WORKING OUT CONVENIENT
If you’re not sure about your schedule or whether you’ll even have time to get in a workout, plan for the worst- case scenario. That may mean exercising in grandma’s basement with no equipment and only 10 or 15 minutes to yourself. Try these quick tips for squeezing in a workout even when you only have minutes to spare.
- Bring a workout plan with you: Plan a 10-minute routine you could do right in your bedroom. Choose 10 exercises (squats, lunges, push-ups, jumping jacks, and so on) and do each for 1 minute. Or check out the holiday workouts below for other ideas.
- Bring resistance bands: Resistance bands travel well, and you can use them for quick strength exercises whenever you catch a few minutes.
- Move your equipment (weights or bands) into your bedroom if guests are staying with you so you can sneak in some exercise at night or in the morning.
- Bring along a workout on DVD or try streaming workouts online.
- Wear your running or walking shoes as much as you can. You may find a 20-minute window when people are napping or before dinner for a quick walk or run.
You may even want to invite some family members for a walk. Sometimes there are others who’d love to work out, but they’re just waiting for someone else to step up first.
TAKE ADVANTAGE OF DOWNTIME
Planning and preparing are nice, but even the best-laid plans get derailed, especially during the holidays. Taking advantage of downtime—or parts of the day where others are relaxing, watching the football game, etc— might be the best way to focus on yourself and get some movement in. That being said, don’t be afraid to partake in downtime if you’re feeling drained. Rest is equally important, especially during the holiday season.
- If you’re hanging out with kids, set up a game of football, tag, or hide and seek.
- Offer to help with housework, shoveling snow, or raking leaves.
- Walk! Take extra laps at the park, use the stairs, and volunteer to walk the dog.
HOLIDAY WORKOUTS TO TRY
The following routines cover everything from cardio to circuit training to strength workouts with no equipment. Bookmark them to try over the holidays, or use them for inspiration in creating your own workouts.
- 10-Minute Cardio Blast
- Best Body Weight Exercises
- Fat Burning Circuit
- Low Impact Cardio Blast
- Quick and Challenging Bodyweight Exercises
- Total Body Resistance Band Workout
The most important thing is to be realistic about your holiday workout expectations. You aren’t always in charge of your schedule during this time of year, so having a flexible mindset is crucial. Ultimately, don’t forget to put yourself and your physical needs (whether that be rest or a quick run) first.
A WORD FROM VERYWELL
While exercising during the holidays may seem like a lost cause, small moments of movement throughout the day can actually help you maintain physical and mental stamina. That said, fitness during the holiday season should not be a stressful or forced activity—taking rest days and time off to enjoy your family and friends is equally important.