Christmas is a time for fun, happiness, peace, and love – as well as eating great food and taking a break from work. It’s also a time when many of us also take a break from exercise. This might be because you think you deserve some time off, or it might be because your gym is closed. Either way, Christmas is NOT the time to stop exercising!
Exercise is very beneficial at this time of year because:
- It helps prevent weight gain
- It boosts your immune system – winter is a common time to be ill
- It helps fight stress – the holidays are one of the most stressful
- It gets you out of the house and away from food!
If you find your motivation levels drop during the holidays don’t worry – you are not alone. I know exactly how you feel and so too do many of the readers of Days to Fitness. It’s like we simply resign ourselves to getting fat and unfit over Christmas!
I think it’s a shame to lose all that fitness you spent the last 12-months building and gaining the weight you spent the last 12-months losing so, in this article, I want to help you stay motivated to exercise during the holidays.
1. Do 12-days of Christmas workouts
Christmas traditionally lasts 12 days – from Christmas Eve to 4th of January. That’s a long time to put your workouts on hold. Instead, make a commitment to doing a 30-minute workout each one of the 12 days. For example, you might do a gym workout one day, go for a jog the next, ride your bike the day after that, and so on. It doesn’t matter what you do so long as you a) do something different each day and b) clock up 30-minutes of exercise.
2. Exercise with your family
Christmas is a time for family, so why not exercise with yours? Play active games, play sports, go for family bike rides, go for walks – just get everyone together and go and exercise. Make sure whatever you choose to do is fully inclusive so that no members of the family are left out. Take it in turns to choose the workout for the day, so everyone feels part of the plan.
3. Clear the snow
Clearing snow is a terrific workout for your arms, shoulders, back and legs. If you live somewhere snowy, treat your snow clearing chore as a workout and see just how quickly you can shift the snow. If you have the energy to spare, why not ask your neighbors if they need their snow clearing? It’s not only a nice thing to do; it will help you avoid weight gain as snow shoveling burns an impressive 400-600 calories per hour. No snow? Clear the leaves instead.
4. Walk to visit friends and neighbors
Rather than drive to go and visit friends and neighbors, put on your shoes and coat and walk instead. Walk briskly, swing your arms, and enjoy being out in the fresh air. Walking is not only good exercise, it’s also good for the environment, and you’ll save money on gas too. If the weather is too bad for walking, take yourself off to the mall and do some serious indoor walking instead. Just don’t stop each time you pass a coffee shop!
5. Bodyweight workouts
Bodyweight workouts are a great way to stay in shape without going to the gym. All you need is a couple of yards of space and a folded towel to lie on. You can make up your own workout from the exercises you know or type “bodyweight workouts for home” into YouTube and follow along with the videos you’ll find there.
Just 20-30 minutes per day is all you need to maintain your fitness so that when you return to your regular fitness routine, you haven’t lost any of your hard-won conditioning.
Here are some excellent workouts from my friend Patrick Dale who’ll be joining us at Days to Fitness soon to write some exercise articles.
6. Buy an active video game
You could be forgiven for thinking that video games are not much better than sitting down, but some are quite energetic. Games on Wii (available at amazon.com) and Xbox Kinect (available at amazon.com) both involve getting up and moving and, where some are simple shoot ‘em-ups, others are sports simulations.
Both platforms also offer dancing games and workouts too. These games are energetic fun for all the family – kids and parents alike.
7. Use an activity tracker
Activity trackers use accelerometers and GPS to see how energetic you are and how much you move around. During Christmas, your device might think you have turned into a statue! Use your device to remind you to get up and get moving by setting activity goals e.g. walking 5000 steps or burning 300-calories. If, at the end of the day, you have not hit your target, carry the deficit over to tomorrow and make sure you catch up! (Best Fitness Band available on Amazon.com for $39)
Don’t lose your fitness and gain weight this Christmas. Just because you can’t do your regular workout doesn’t mean you don’t need to exercise. Just 20-30 minutes a day is all you need to maintain your current fitness and prevent Christmas weight gain. Put any of these seven strategies into practice and make this year your fittest Christmas ever!