The holiday season can be both joyful and stressful for many people. On the one hand, you may have some time off from work and may be able to spend quality time with your loved ones – eating good food, relaxing, and celebrating together. On the other, you may be nervous about traveling during the coronavirus pandemic, worried about your work and financial situation, or unsure what you’re going to do for gifts this year.
It can also be difficult to maintain your workout regimen during the holidays since your everyday schedule may be off. You may find that your time isn’t your own during the holidays, having lots of commitments, get-togethers, and parties to attend or host, as well as the many errands you need to run before them. Even if you’re home for the holidays and your schedule remains unchanged, your gym or favorite workout spot may be closed and/or have limited hours.
While taking a break from the gym for a few days may allow your body and mind to rest and recover, an extended absence from your regular exercise routine may mentally affect your motivation.
“Research shows that cardio endurance is easy to lose and diminishes much faster than muscle strength,” according to Women’s Health. “In fact, you can expect to notice a decrease in your cardio fitness about a week or two after you stop doing activities like running or biking.”
In order to make sure that your exercise routine remains steady and strong like you, here have 5 tips for working out during the holiday season.
1. PLAN AHEAD
If you’re traveling and will be away from home for the majority of this holiday season, it’s important to plan ahead.
Verywell Fit recommends searching for walking, running, or park trails before you reach your holiday destination, finding out if there’s exercise equipment and an area to workout at the hotel or family member/friend’s place you’re staying at, and if the location you’re at doesn’t have any exercise equipment or a spot for you to exercise, look up local gyms nearby and see if they will allow guests to use their facilities.
2. SCHEDULE YOUR WORKOUTS
“Sitting down on the weekend and planning your workouts for the week ahead can be the most effective 15 minutes you spend on your health and fitness,” according to a HuffPost article. “By writing your workouts into your schedule, you’ll be more likely to regard them as protected time and actually do them.”
However, it’s important to remember that your schedule may be forced to change for reasons out of your control, especially during the holidays. If that happens, it’s OK. Don’t get too down on yourself over the missed workout. Try to exercise at a different time that same day, or if that’s not possible, schedule it for the following day.
3. KEEP YOUR WORKOUTS SHORT
“Regardless of planning, you will likely not have as much time for your workouts,” according to Duke Integrative Medicine. “The key is to plan for some shorter (10-20) workouts.”
Running, jogging, and walking, as well as body weight circuits for strength training are workouts you can do if you only have a limited amount of time to exercise, according to Duke Integrative Medicine.
4. HIIT FOR THE HOLIDAYS
High-intensity interval training (HIIT) may be the ultimate solution for when you’re strapped for time during the holidays, but are still looking to get the most out of your workout session.
Ace Fitness has a “Holiday HIIT: 20-minute Total-body Blitz” workout that doesn’t require any equipment and can be done anywhere. All you need to do is 20 repetitions of Air Squats, Push-Ups, Mountain Climbers (20 reps for each leg), Burpees, Lateral Lunges (20 reps for each leg), Close-Grip Push-Ups, Inch Worms, and another round of Burpees.
“The goal of this workout is to push yourself hard through the 20 minutes and to complete as many rounds as possible,” according to Ace Fitness. “Set a timer for 20 minutes, rest when you need to, and jump back into the workout when you are ready.”
5. GET YOUR FAMILY AND FRIENDS INVOLVED
“Most cities and towns now offer Turkey Trots, Rudolph Runs, or Santa 5Ks,” according to ACTIVE. “Preparing for a run, walk, or obstacle course race will help you stay motivated to work out. Invite your friends and family members to participate, this way you all are held accountable to show up.”
If there aren’t any races or outdoor activities scheduled in your hometown, or wherever you’ll be this holiday season, that doesn’t mean you still can’t get outside and play with your family and friends. You can organize a Turkey Bowl football game on Thanksgiving, or play simple games like tag and hide-and-go seek with any of the youngsters around.
“Or, after every meal, encourage a 30-minute family walk around the neighborhood,” according to ACTIVE. “This way you will squeeze in a light workout and bond with family members. The walk may not burn 1,000 calories, but it sure beats going back for more pumpkin pie.”