10 Ways to squeeze in physical activity during the holidays
By the Health Promotion team
Park further away
Turn that congested parking lot into an opportunity to get in some physical activity. If you’re headed to the mall to do some holiday shopping, avoid those fiercely fought over prime parking spots and park further away from the entrance. This reduces stress, gives you a moment to breathe in the cool fresh air, and gets a few more steps in. When you consider how many more mall stops and grocery runs you make over the holidays, those steps add up.
Lap the mall
Before you head directly to the store where you always buy a sweater for your uncle, take a quick-paced, full lap around the mall. In addition to beating the cold temperatures outside, you’ll get in some extra physical activity and window shop while you’re at it. You might even spot an alternative to that boring holiday gift you typically default to.
Play with kids
During the holiday season, you’re likely to be around more small children than usual. Take advantage of having the little ones around, and try to feed off of their holiday excitement. Instead of being burdened by the extra responsibilities of having tiny tots around, rediscover play. You can chase the active toddlers around the house or take the older kids on a stroll around the neighborhood to check out holiday decorations. You’ll be squeezing in physical activity during the manic holiday season, and it’s likely that the kids will put you in the holiday spirit.
Be active indoors
Physical activity can be difficult during the holidays for people who like to be active outdoors. Taking a walk or going for a run might be challenging in freezing temperatures. Things you can do to be active in your home include: climb up and down the stairs in your house, do weight training, Pilates, yoga, or enjoy some PSP workouts from the national library or YouTube channel to stay active during the holiday season. Maybe even haul out that old Wii for an old-school tournament. Identify physically active venues in your community for family and friend gatherings. Climbing walls, driving ranges, axe throwing, life-sized video games, and community pools are just a few available locally.
Some sports were made for the holiday season. A perfect way to bond with family and get a workout could be a trip to the ice rink or frozen lake. Ice skating is an excellent form of physical activity for people of all ages; the kids will love sliding around on the ice, and older people will appreciate skating’s low impact on the joints. Along with these health benefits, bundling up in the crisp winter air to take to the ice is sure to put you in the holiday spirit.
The holidays can get so busy and hectic that an important activity such as physical activity might simply fall to the wayside. To avoid forgetting about being active, make physical activity appointments on your calendar, and keep these appointments just as you would any other. Be realistic and remain consistent. For example, if you’re having trouble getting motivated, commit to at least 10 minutes of physical activity per day. A 10-minute commitment may not seem like much, but it will help you start a routine. You also could commit to walking 1 km or being active for 10 minutes for every $10 you spend on holiday shopping.
Be active with the family or friends
Although it might seem difficult to take time to be active while you’re surrounded by family, take advantage of having the whole gang around and plan holiday get-togethers around physical activity. For example, take your family on a walk through a park decked out in holiday lights and decorations. Or go on a walk and sing carols through the neighborhood. If you have a more adventurous crew, go sledding or skiing. You’ll not only spend quality time with your family but also get some great exercise in during what could be a sedentary holiday gathering.
Wear a pedometer or activity tracker
It’s important to keep track of how active you are during the holidays. Chances are that when it’s chilly and dark outside as you’re leaving work, you’re going to be less active than when it’s warm and sunny when you head home from work. To make sure you’re staying active during the winter season, wear a pedometer to keep track of how much you’re moving around. A general rule of thumb is that you should aim to walk about 10,000 steps daily — about 8 kilometers — to maintain a good level of fitness. By wearing a pedometer, you’ll be able to check if you’re maintaining your baseline of fitness and adjust if you’re not. If you find you’re falling behind, find more stairs, get off the bus a few stops sooner, or park a few blocks away from the restaurant if you’re meeting your friends for a holiday meal.
Sign up for a race
Check online or with your local running shop to ask about annual holiday events such as Turkey Trots or Jingle Bell Runs. These “fun-run” races are usually family-oriented and not too intense but still very good ways to stay active during the holiday season. Sign up for these events well in advance so that you can stay committed to being active in order to prepare for the event. You can incorporate physical activity into your everyday holiday season routine. Holiday-themed races are the perfect way for the whole family to stay in shape and anticipate the season, and most have a walk option if you are not a runner. Collecting those medals is often a great motivator!
Stay active while traveling
If you’re traveling out of town to visit friends and family during the holidays, it might be difficult to maintain your usual physical activity schedule. There are some things you can do to squeeze in activity on the go. In the airport, walk around the terminals in between flights. When booking a hotel, check out if they have a pool, fitness center, or in-room exercise equipment. You can also ask if your gym membership extends to other gyms in the town you’re visiting. Additionally, let your family know that you intend to be active during your visit. They’ll hold you accountable for your goals.