Between pies and cross-country travel, visiting family and friends, it can be pretty tough to stay physically active during the holiday season. A cornucopia of family obligations, work parties and last-minute shopping means that hitting the gym often gets delayed or crossed off the schedule altogether. Not this year! There are 36 days between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day, and we're determined to make the most of them. We've come up with 10 smart strategies, tips, tricks and motivational techniques to make fitness part of the celebration all holiday season long. Learn how to keep up your exercise routines this winter, Christmas cookies be darned.
1. Get Out There
Snuggling under the blankets with a mug of hot chocolate is fine and dandy, but it probably won't help you out in the fitness department. Instead of baking cookies or playing board games, pass the time with an active pursuit like snowshoeing, hiking or even building snowmen. Get outside this time of year and breathe in that cold crisp air, you will find it uplifting and it beats staying cooped up indoors while that winter sun is shining.
2. Set A Challenge
Each year, Runner's World magazine challenges readers to run every single day (logging at least one mile per day) between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. Pounding the pavement not your style? Well then, Create your own challenge, whether it involves trying a new bodyweight exercise every day, testing different yoga poses or experimenting with an unfamiliar running workout. But make it your own and stay with the routine.
3. Make It Official
Sign up for a race, competition or fitness-y vacation like a hiking or a bike trip in January or February so you have a good reason (and plenty of motivation) to stay in shape over the holidays. Especially if there is money involved with a sign-up fee, you will be less likely to renege on going through with the event.
4. Try Feet-First Sightseeing
If you're traveling or going on vacation exploring a new city on foot or on a bike instead of in a car or by public transportation (weather permitting). Remember, just like traveling in a plane versus a car… you can get up-front and personal by touring your vacation spots by foot. Keep in touch with the locals and see where they congregate for the best in local entertainment, you'll be glad you did.
5. Find A Workout Buddy
Rolling out of bed for a 6 a.m. gym session is much harder to skip when you're one half of a dynamic workout duo. Enlist a fitness-minded friend or family member (especially if you're traveling) to be your holiday exercise buddy. Encourage each other to lace up the sneakers for pre-dinner workouts and post-shopping trip runs.
6. Treat Yourself
No, not to that extra slice of pumpkin pie. If it's within your budget, indulge in new workout clothing or fitness equipment before Thanksgiving to boost motivation throughout the holiday season. The best thing about this is unlike that slice of pumpkin pie or holiday cookie, you will be able to wear your new workout clothes or use that fitness equipment again and again and again.
7. Start A Fitness Tradition
There are tons of family-friendly holiday-themed running events in most areas. Sign up the whole family (don't forget the costumes) for a fun, goofy Turkey Trot or Jingle Jog. Before you know it, the annual race will become a family tradition.
8. Include Everyone
Working out can often be a solitary activity, which may explain why many people skip the gym when friends and family are in town. Make it a group activity by inviting your visitors to join you at the gym or take part in your favorite exercise class.
9. Find A Promotion
Many gyms and exercise studios offer deals and specials during the holidays. Do some snooping and sign up if you find a sweet deal. If you've recently joined a gym, take advantage of any promo’s like a free consultation with a personal trainer (most fitness facilities offer this perk) to learn some new moves. Don’t forget, this time of year most fitness clubs and gym’s are looking to capture those new members who have made those New Year resolutions. So shop around, but don’t rely on just the best money savings deal, check out the facility to make sure it is something you will want to look forward to going to, to exercise!
10. Do Some DI Yard work
Whether it's raking leaves or shoveling snow, yard work is a great way to get the heart rate up and work out major muscle groups. And the best thing about this one is, not only are you sprucing up your yard but its free.
If you incorporate these suggestions or tips into this holiday season, you will find yourself being in pretty fair shape as Father Time brings in 2016!