The holidays have become synonymous with parties full of delectable food and flowing drinks with family and friends. Between holiday travel and a calendar full of commitments, it can be easy to let fitness fall by the wayside.
However, all it takes is a little creativity to make staying active a priority — even a game — among your family and friends. Making it a part of your celebrations and traditions, versus simply another obligation that has to be done during the chaos, means you are more likely to stick with it and enjoy it. Plus, by including everyone, you are likely to have a better holiday season, as exercise can help reduce stress and promote a better night’s sleep.
We rounded up ideas to get you started in making this holiday season an active one for you and your family.
1. SIGN YOUR FAMILY UP FOR A RACE
The easiest way to make sure you stay active during the holiday season is to sign your family up for a local race. Turkey trots and reindeer runs are a staple of most towns and get you out and active before the holiday festivities begin. In fact, some of these races have been around for more than a century, such as the Buffalo Turkey Trot, which has been held annually since 1896. Most of these races range in distance anywhere from 1-mile to a 10K, making them accessible to family members of all fitness levels — don’t be afraid to go out and just walk the course! Make the event even more fun for the family by dressing up in costume or picking up a post-race hot chocolate.
2. START A FRIENDLY COMPETITION
Competition never hurt anyone! If you have a hard time staying motivated, this can be a great way to encourage the whole family to get in on the fun. If your family members don’t have activity trackers, you can give pedometers to the crew and host a holiday step challenge. Either have everyone put a few dollars into a pool that the winner can use to buy themselves a gift or get creative with the prize (for example, maybe the winner doesn’t have to do any dishes or gets to choose any present to open a few days early). Get the kids involved, too, by having a separate competition for them. Whether it lasts a week or a whole month, everyone will be moving daily to make sure they come out on top.
3. CHANGE HOW YOU CHECK OUT HOLIDAY DISPLAYS
Many towns go all out for the holidays with lavish light displays; some are put on by the city and some neighborhoods have adopted the tradition themselves. If you and your family are headed to check out the lights, why not walk instead of drive? Of course you can drive to the area of town where the displays are located, but this year, try parking and taking in the lights with a thermos of hot chocolate and a stroll down the street. Not only will you have more time to admire details you may not have noticed while passing by in the car, but you can also get in a few miles as a family and meet other neighbors and locals along the way.
4. PLAY YOUR OWN FOOTBALL GAME
When it comes to the holidays, football is a common tradition, especially during Thanksgiving. While it may be customary to plop down on the couch in front of the Thanksgiving NFL game after your meal, why not hold a family — or neighborhood — football game of your own? If you really don’t want to miss watching your favorite team play live, you can always hold the game during halftime — role-playing as the teams on TV — and seeing if the winner matches the champion of your backyard game.
5. MAKE FITNESS AN ANNUAL TRADITION
When it comes to opening presents — and this is especially true for children — often the rest of the morning is spent sitting in the living room playing with the new haul of toys. With our current technology, that often means sitting in front of a screen of some sort. There is nothing wrong with spending time indoors, of course, but this year try switching things up. After you’ve given family members an hour or two to enjoy their new gadgets, pull out one present you “forgot” for the whole family. The catch? It must be played with by the whole family as soon as it is opened! Make sure it is fitness-related — it can be anything from a new basketball to a set of kites to tennis balls — and head outside to play with the family for the rest of the afternoon. Not only will you work up an appetite, you will get some activity in before heading back indoors to play with your new tech goodies.