How to keep your fitness goals on track this holiday season

You don’t need to choose between going to the gym or baking cookies with your family to keep fit. These 11 tips will ensure you don’t let the “best time of year” ruin your exercise routine.

It’s the holiday season! There are plenty of cookies and peppermint bark, family gatherings, and parties at work. And suddenly, you need to remember the exercise program you worked so hard to keep up with these past 11 months.

Despite being difficult this time of the year, staying active is worth your time and effort. A workout could be the perfect antidote to your hectic schedule, whether preparing for dinner with your family or meeting up with friends at the end of the year. Exercise will give you the most “miracle drug-like” results in mood and energy enhancement (in sleep).

Consider physical activity to boost your health and offset the stress that the season brings, such as extra pie or transportation headaches.

Keeping your fitness routine in check during busy times can be difficult. Here are 11 tips from fitness experts to move a positive and consistent part of your holiday season.

How to keep your fitness goals on track this holiday season

Kelsey Wells: A 5-Minute Strength Workout

Realistic Expectations

You can let the holidays go if your fitness and health goals include weight loss, muscle building, or performance enhancements (e.g., running a race). You might be able to make steady progress through the rest of the year by sticking to your workouts and eating healthy meals. Still, it isn’t always possible during the holidays.

David Chesworth is the Hilton Head Health’s fitness director and wellness coach. He recommends focusing on “maintenance” instead of “improvement” during this time of the year. He says that while it can be difficult and time-consuming for fitness to improve, it is much easier to keep your fitness up.

Resetting your expectations about your fitness and routine during the holidays will allow you to stay active while enjoying the festivities. Chesworth is a certified exercise physiologist through the American College of Sports Medicine.

Plan Ahead

Take the time to plan for your holiday weeks, especially if you are traveling. You can still get some exercise in.

Wickham suggests that you plan where you will exercise, whether at your relative’s home, outdoors, or in a hotel gym. You can prepare the equipment you might need and what clothing you will need. This will allow you to have realistic expectations and the confidence to go into the week with a plan.

Make a schedule for your workouts.

You can prioritize your workouts by scheduling them on your phone or planner, along with work meetings and family gatherings.

“Studies show that scheduling exercises increase your likelihood of doing them,” says Grayson Wickham, CSCS. He is a doctoral candidate in physical therapy and the founder and CEO of Movement Vault, which offers videos to increase flexibility and mobility and help prevent injury.

Rise and get to it.

Many holiday events could ruin your afternoon or evening workouts, whether you have an office holiday party or a million to-dos.

Karena Dawn is a cofounder and yoga instructor certified by Yoga Alliance. This non-profit yoga association empowers teachers and schools. She also says it sets the tone for a productive day and reduces stress. This is especially important for the holiday season, which can be hectic.

Pre-Game (With a sweat session)

Katrina Scott recommends taking 15 minutes to do a quick, easy-to-do, high-intensity interval training (HIIT) before you get ready for the ugly-sweater party or family dinner.

Scott suggests that you pick five moves, such as jump squats and mountain climbers, and then cycle through three rounds, each for 45 seconds. After resting, Scott recommends continuing.

You’ll be able to enjoy the post-workout boost and also have a faster metabolism. Scott says that HIIT’s high-intensity nature means that your body will continue to work hard to recover for hours after your workout.

Take your workout essentials with you when you travel.

Keep a few simple workout tools handy for traveling this holiday season. This will allow you to get some exercise while on the road.

Wickham says, “I like to travel two long resistance bands and three small looped bands with varying resistances.” These bands can give you a complete workout, even in a small hotel room. You can choose a few moves to cycle through and do as many rounds as possible. The American Council on Exercise provides step-by-step instructions to help you get started with exercises like banded lateral crawls and shoulder stabilizers (“superman”) lifts.

Get a Workout App

Do you need help with what to do with your limited time or in your grandma’s basement? Do not let uncertainty stop you from doing your best.

Wickham states that many great online programs and apps will give you expert workout plans at your fingertips. Many platforms offer equipment-free workouts to get a great workout anywhere and anytime.

Keep it Quick

A quick 15- to 20-minute workout is a good alternative for days when a 45 or 60-minute workout is impossible. Wickham says that a 20-minute focused activity will still provide many benefits. It will keep you on track so you can get back to your routine in the new year.

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