5 Holiday Workout Tips Yule Love

The holidays involve taking time off work, traveling to see family, and picking out thoughtful gifts. For many, the final months of the year also require careful planning to stay in shape. According to a number of studies, including research from The New England Journal of Medicine, the average person gains one to two pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day.1

Fortunately, awareness and creativity will help you keep the momentum going on your fitness regimen. Consider the following workout tips to stay in shape over the holidays.

1: Make the airport your personal gym.

Occupy your time at the airport by taking a long walk through the terminal. Use your phone to keep track of your steps—the ground you can cover may surprise you!

Engaging in light activity even for five minutes helps to increase your blood flow and heart rate, so make use of long wait times at the airport by pacing around at the gate. You can log thousands of steps before you board your plane. Celebrate the holidays in style by keeping active amid the chaos of air travel.

2: Stretch in your seat on the plane or in the car.

Research reveals that you burn up to 30% more calories standing up than when you’re seated.2 If you’ve booked a long flight for the holidays, you probably know that getting up to stretch your legs isn’t always feasible. (The same goes for driving. While you should plan to stop at a gas station and get your blood flowing every few hours, extenuating circumstances—say, an impending December blizzard—might make this difficult.)

However, you can still stretch during transit. Does this sound counterintuitive? It’s actually quite simple. If you are seated in a small space, there are plenty of ways you can work your muscles. Consider the following exercises:

  • Start in an upright position and then push your back into your seat and engage your core. Make a conscious effort to flex your abdominals.
  • Gently roll your wrists and ankles. Do this in both directions for optimal results.
  • Place a book between your knees and squeeze your thighs to work your legs, core, and hip abductors.
  • Ball your hands into fists, place them on both armrests, and lift yourself gently out of your seat. This is a fantastic exercise for lengthy car and plane rides—as long as you’re not the one behind the wheel.

3: Challenge yourself to park far away at the mall.

Are you planning to purchase holiday gifts at your local shopping center? Walking around the mall is a fantastic winter workout, and you can get started as soon as you pull into the parking lot. Rather than circling around in search of a spot near the entrance, deliberately seek a parking space at the back of the lot.

Go into this knowing that parking far is your choice. Those extra steps will add up, and the fresh air will do you good. Another benefit of parking far from the entrance is that you will no longer need to stress about snagging the perfect space.

4: Take advantage of slow times at the office.

If your workload is lighter during the holidays, enjoy your downtime at the office. Step outside every few hours to stretch your legs and recharge. Go for a long walk during your lunch break. You could even encourage your colleagues to bundle up and join you for a walking meeting. This time of year is ideal for building healthy habits on the job.

5: Register for a holiday race.

From Turkey Trots to Reindeer Runs, there is no shortage of 5k and 10k races around the holidays. Take your workout routine to the next level by registering for your local Jingle Bell Jog. There’s no need to fret if you’re not in running shape—many people sign up for these events with the aim of simply getting in the holiday spirit, and they still manage to break a sweat by walking the course.

These tips will help you maintain a workout routine during the holidays. In addition to working out regularly, make sure to relax and get enough sleep during this busy time of year.

1Jack A. Yanovski, M.D., Ph.D., Susan Z. Yanovski, M.D., Kara N. Sovik, B.S., Tuc T. Nguyen, M.S., Patrick M. O’Neil, Ph.D., and Nancy G. Sebring, M.Ed., R.D. N Engl J Med 23 March 2000; 342:861-867 DOI: 10.1056/NEJM200003233421206.
2Julie Corliss, “Too much sitting linked to heart disease, diabetes, premature death,” Harvard Health Blog, 22 January 2015, https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/much-sitting-linked-heart-disease-diabetes-premature-death-201501227618

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