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Fitting Fitness in During the Busiest Time of the Year

December 19, 2013
Jamie Walker

Whew. It's the holidays. There's shopping to be done, whether in stores, at the malls or from the comfort of your office cubicle or easy chair. Decorations to put out, menus to plan and prepare, parties to attend. This time of year is filled with things to do, but all too often fitness is left out of the festivities. In fact, even the most fastidious of fitness folk find themselves struggling to fit in exercise during the holidays. I know I do.

To counter this, I've come up with several ideas you can use to keep fitness in your day while you enjoy your holidays.

Shop, Drop and Give Me 10

Nothing's a time kill like holiday shopping. But that's no reason you can't fit in exercise. If you don't have time for a run or spin class, lace up your running shoes anyway, and:

  • Park far from a store entrance. And when at the mall, park on the side of the building opposite from the store in which you plan to shop.
  • Skip elevators and escalators. Opt for the stairs instead.
  • Add a half hour to your shopping excursion and get your walk on.
  • While standing in line for a coffee (preferably sans the calorie-laden whipped cream and caramel drizzle), do biceps curls while holding all your shopping bags.
  • Work you glutes while waiting to pay by standing on one leg and trying to kick your butt with the heel of your free leg. Or give your legs a good workout with squat sets. Another option: stand tall and push up onto your toes, raising each heel a few inches off the ground. This is an excellent calf toner. (All of these exercises, by the way, are perfect options for people who are shopping online, as well. Just step away from the keyboard and work it.)

Get the Family Moving
Family get-togethers during the holidays often revolve around eating. That's fine, but why not add in some new traditions?

  • Take a family walk after meals. My family has come to love our holiday walks, and everyone participates from my young nieces and nephews to my grandparents. The kids have added mini-boot camps into the walks that include everything from dashes to lunges and more.
  • Make that annual trip to see all the houses in their Christmas splendor a walking, rather than driving, tour. Find a neighborhood that's known to have lots of lights, park the car, and walk.
  • Get moving with family tournaments on the Wii, Xbox or other video gaming console. There's everything from motion-based exercise games to dance-a-thons to bowling.
  • Don't have a video gaming console? Pull out an old-school game like Twister, have hula hoop contests, play a friendly game of flag football, capture the flag, or Twenty-One.

Find Routine in the Chaos
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of fitness during the holidays is that routine is upended. Perhaps you've gone out of town to visit with family, or maybe friends have come to your place for a week or two. You can't move to your own schedule because you have to consider someone else's.

  • Plan ahead. If you're visiting family, check in with them about the daily plan ahead of time, preferably the night before. That way, you can build into the day a half-hour jog that doesn't interfere with anything.
  • Get up an hour earlier, fire up your tablet and stretch and move with a fitness podcast. I often do yoga via podcasts while traveling, and they are a nice alternative to the classes I participate in at home. You might even find that a family member or two will join you.