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Quick Tips - How to Stay Active and Exercise During the Holidays

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Updated November 21, 2012

It's hard enough to exercise the rest of the year, but add holidays to the mix and many of us find exercise becomes less of a priority as to-do lists grow longer and longer. The last thing you want is more stress and, for many of us, trying to keep to our usual workout program does just that. At the same time, staying active in some way will give you energy, reduce stress and tension and, of course, help mitigate some of the extra calories you may be eating.

So, how do you find that balance? These quick tips will help you plan ahead, prepare yourself for any eventuality and provide workouts to help you stay active this holiday season.

Plan Ahead

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. Just a few ideas:

  • Search for walking, running or park trails nearby
  • Look up information about the hotel you're staying at and find out if they have an exercise room
  • If you're staying with family, ask if they have any fitness equipment
  • If that's not an option, find any nearby gyms and ask if they let guests use their facility
  • Talk to your family in advance and suggest taking a walk or doing something active together
  • Plan simple workouts (see below) that don't require much space or equipment. If you're traveling or have visitors, you may be able to sneak in a workout in the basement without bothering anyone.

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.

Get Prepared

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 be staying 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. For example, you could choose 10 exercises and do each for 1 minute (squats, lunges, pushups, jumping jacks) or check out the holiday workouts below for other ideas.
  • Bring resistance bands. They travel well and you can use them for quick strength exercises whenever you catch a few minutes.
  • If you have a laptop, bring along a workout DVD or try streaming workouts online such as those offered by demandFitness.
  • If guests are staying with you, move your equipment (weights or bands) into your bedroom so you can sneak in some exercise at night or in the morning.
  • 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 workout, but they're just waiting for someone else to step up first.

Use Every Opportunity

Planning and preparing are nice, but even the best-laid plans get derailed, especially during the holidays. If you find there's just no way to get in a workout, get creative and find ways to move your body any way you can:

  • Walk as much as possible. Take extra laps at the mall, use the stairs, volunteer to walk the dog.
  • If you're hanging out with kids, set up a game of football, tag or hide and seek.
  • Offer to help with the housework, shoveling snow or raking leaves.
  • If everybody's sitting around watching football, get on the floor for some situps or pushups. If that's too weird, try isometric exercises -- squeeze and hold the abs, the glutes or even press the hands together to engage the chest.
  • If you don't have equipment, pick up some full water bottles or soup cans for quick lateral raises or overhead presses. Something is always better than nothing.

Holiday Workouts

If you need some workout ideas, these routines cover everything from cardio to circuit training to strength workouts with no equipment. Print them out and take them with you or just use them for inspiration in creating your own workouts.

The most important thing is to be realistic and go easy on yourself. You aren't always in charge of your schedule during the holidays so you can only do your best. Remind yourself that you can get back to your routine when you're back home.

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