Is your holiday schedule packed with events and food? Then there’s a good chance your regular exercise schedule may need some adjusting during the holidays. But that doesn’t mean you have to abandon it entirely.
Nor should you, says Kathleen Trotter, a Toronto-based personal trainer and online health coach. “It’s always easier to keep up than catch up,” she explains. “Over the years, cycling out of fitness and health is hard on your body.” Making fitness a priority over the holidays maintains your good habits, so you’re on track for a healthy new year.
What’s more, staying active during the holiday season can help make your celebrations more joyful. Exercise is a proven stress-reliever and mood-booster, she says. So eating well and getting your heart pumping can help you relax and enjoy the holidays with your loved ones.
Still, fitting activity into your holiday schedule may feel a little daunting, especially if you’re travelling. Luckily, there are ways you can sneak in some holiday exercise. Try these four tips to keep your fitness goals on track throughout the festive season.
1. Set realistic fitness goals
Let's be honest – a demanding holiday schedule means some of your regular exercise may fall to the wayside. And that’s okay. “Plan ahead and decide in advance which workouts you’ll skip and which ones you’ll stick to,” recommends Trotter.
That holiday work party or the kids’ Christmas concerts are well worth skipping the gym. But if you commit in advance to the rest of your workouts that week, your fitness goals won’t suffer.
“Plus, you can brainstorm alternative ways to get moving on days you can’t work out,” says Trotter. Take a brisk walk over lunch or during a call, or try an active commute if the weather permits.
2. Try an at-home workout
Sometimes, holiday travel or icy roads mean hitting the gym simply isn’t an option. Stay on track with at-home workouts, instead. Trotter recommends downloading a workout app, like Seven Moments, that can help you work up a sweat anywhere.
Of course, packing a few travel-friendly fitness essentials can help, she says. Invest in a set of resistance bands and an anchor, which allows you to attach the bands to a door. This will make it easier to do a full-body workout at home.
3. Exercise as a family
Good news: fitness can be a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your family. Holiday family fun could include heading to the gym or yoga studio together, or taking a brisk walk around the neighbourhood.
But you can also plan outdoor outings, too. Spend an afternoon ice skating with the kids, or head to the nearest trail for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
Feeling really adventurous? Look into winter camping at a provincial or national park for a holiday “fit-cation.”
4. Turn housework into a workout
Sometimes, the hustle and bustle of the holidays means you truly have no time to work out. Instead, turn your to-do list into the opportunity for a mini-workout, recommends Trotter.
Doing laundry? Start off every cycle with a set of squats, then turn on your favourite workout music for a minute of dancing.
Making dinner? Do walking lunges around the kitchen while you’re waiting for the oven timer to go off. Use minute-long breaks as a chance to get active. That way, you could fit 15 minutes of exercise or more into a single housework session.
Remember to balance your favourite holiday indulgences with your fitness goals. By planning ahead and making opportunities for active winter fun, you’ll create lasting holiday memories. Plus, you'll help your family live happier and healthier in the new year.