It’s easy to let exercise slide when life gets a little more hectic during the holidays, but this season of extra stress (and eating) is the time of year we need to move most!
Instead of abandoning your fitness plan until the new year, use these five tips to help you create a plan of action to stay on track with your healthy lifestyle during the holidays:
1. Make a master plan.
Follow the lead of banks, schools and even your gym, and take a few minutes to sit down and create a holiday schedule. Around the holidays, we tend to work different hours, spend more time running errands and going to parties, so creating a personal master plan can be a great way to eliminate some of the stress, chaos and wasted time that can keep you from exercising.
If, for example, you know you’ll be spending Wednesday traveling to your parents’ house, you may want to schedule in a quick early morning fitness session before you need to start getting the kids ready and the bags packed to head out the door by 10 a.m. Be sure to write down your exercise time and give it priority like an important appointment you can’t cancel with less than 24 hours notice (and if you do have to cancel, move it around so that you have another time to work out somewhere in your schedule).
2. Create an arsenal of travel-friendly workouts.
Even if your holiday schedule is full of out-of-town trips, there are still plenty of great ways to get your sweat on away from home. Do you love going to the gym? Awesome! Use this opportunity to check out a new fitness center while you’re on the road. Head to the closest club and get a guest pass, or try out a new class or workout space to mix up your regular routine. Bonus tip: Some gyms, particularly boutique fitness studios, offer a free or discounted class to first-time visitors.
Prefer home workouts? There are plenty of ways to squeeze in a session with exercise videos or apps. You can even stream workouts on your iPad or tablet from YouTube or a wide variety of subscription-based fitness programs (check out Grokker, Daily Burn or Fitness Blender to get started).
Toss a portable resistance band in your carry-on bag or simply look for body-weight only options for a routine you can do from any hotel or guest room.
3. Get the family involved.
Spending quality time with the family doesn’t have to mean sitting around and eating all day (and night) long! Get the party started by suggesting a holiday-themed dance contest or an outdoor football game. Even a walk around the block to look at holiday decorations is a simple way to get everybody moving together.
Headed to the mall to do some holiday shopping? Squeeze in some extra steps while you are there by taking a few window-shopping laps before starting your mission. Cooking a big meal for a family gathering? Once your prep is done and everything is in the oven, set your timer and hit your yoga mat for a short session while you wait. Even just pumping out a few sets of squats or jumping jacks at various intervals throughout your day can make a difference. Remember, a little bit of something is always better than a big nothing.
5. Aim to maintain.
Finally, don’t forget to cut yourself some slack. Sure, a hardcore session at the gym would be great if you can find the time to fit it in, but a walk around the neighborhood with your kids is also a win. Celebrate your small victories during this busy time to help you stay inspired to get back into the game again as soon as you can. Maybe you won’t be making major fitness gains during the holidays, but if you focus on maintaining, it will be much easier to pick up your regular routine (versus starting over) again in the new year.