Once the holidays arrive, diet debauchery is in full swing. Between Thanksgiving feasts, holiday parties and an endless variety of festive cookies and treats, there’s a good chance the pants you wore at the start of the holiday season no longer fit by the time New Year’s Day rolls around.
But let’s be realistic. It’s Grinch-like to suggest forgoing holiday treats and festive foods. One way to raise a glass to a healthier holiday season – without skipping the pumpkin pie or Russian teacakes – is to keep up with your fitness and exercise regime. Many people have a tendency to fall off the exercise bandwagon during the holidays, while others rule out the idea of getting in shape until the New Year, making it their resolution to join a gym or go on a diet. But why not stay fit and have fun with friends throughout the holiday season?
With a little forward planning, self-discipline and creativity, you can start the New Year without having to make a fitness resolution. Whether you go to a group fitness class, meet up at your local pool or plan a flag football game with your neighbors, here are some easy and wonderful ways to make fitness part of your seasonal celebrations.
Fun Fitness Activities
How do you stay active when your family and friends don’t want to get off the sofa during the holidays, preferring an eight-hour TV marathon to a jog in the park? Well, you have to use your family, friends and neighbors to your advantage, and motivate them to get up and get active.
- Plan a neighborhood flag football game. A pick-up game of flag football is a great way to get your holiday guests off the couch and engaged in a little exercise. In fact, for many families, a pre-meal, Thanksgiving football game is a tradition. But why not expand the tradition to involve neighbors and the community? (Let’s just hope the guy who lives two houses down wasn’t a star quarterback in college.)
- Meet up at a local pool. Whether it’s at an athletic club or a YMCA, swimming is a good way to work off those extra holidays pounds. Nothing says happy holidays like a friendly game of water polo.
- Go to a group fitness class. From Pilates and barre to yoga and kickboxing, many local gyms and health clubs offer a wide variety of fitness classes. Grab a workout buddy (or two) and see what your community offers. A group fitness class is also a great way to meet and bond with new people in your neighborhood.
- Go ice-skating. How do you take the edge off during the holidays? You go ice-skating, of course. Ice-skating is a great way for family and friends to spend time together during the holidays, and it’s also an excellent cardio workout. Many towns and communities have seasonal rinks, so go practice your triple axel.
- Indoor alternatives. If the weather outside is frightful, there are indoor alternatives to slumping on the couch and binging on Netflix. Wii Sports and Wii Fit Plus combine fun and fitness. Break a sweat by challenging your family and friends to a virtual tennis or boxing match.
Tips & Tricks For Healthy Holidays
While the holiday season is a revolving door of parties, food and cocktails, research from the University of Oklahoma found that the average festive weight gain was a little over 1 lb. In other words, a second helping of turkey isn’t going to land you on Santa’s naughty list. In fact, knowing that the average holiday weight gain is minimal (most people feel they gain more weight than they really do) should be a motivating factor to exercise. You don’t have to spend 24/7 on the treadmill – and miss out on all the holiday fun – to burn off a pound of festive weight. Here are some strategies for staying active and balancing the season’s indulgences with healthy choices.
- Exercise in the morning. Exercising in the morning ensures you get your workout done before other commitments get in the way. Consider getting up a little earlier than normal.
- Stick to a routine. A workout doesn’t need to be long to be beneficial. In fact, activity bouts as short as 10 minutes can be effective. Whether you get active three or four times a week, a solid routine will help you stay on track.
- Don’t count calories. Counting holiday calories is counterproductive. Why? According to figures released by the Royal Society for Public Health in 2016, the average person consumes about 6,000 calories on Christmas Day alone. Moreover, one large glass of mulled wine takes 44 minutes to walk off. Once you have these types of numbers in your head, you’ll be tempted to shelve your fitness regime until the New Year. Remember: one or two days of holiday indulgence isn’t going to pack on the pounds.
- Its season’s greetings, not… season’s eatings. Don’t feel obliged to eat or drink more than you normally would just because it’s the holiday season.
- Get family, friends and neighbors involved. The more the merrier, right? Whether you and your family take an evening stroll after dinner, or you convince your friends and neighbors to sign up for a local 5K, it’s easier to stay motivated and active when more people are involved.
When we reunite with family and friends for the holidays, fitness is often put on the back burner. But it’s possible to stay active and enjoy yourself this holiday season. In order to have success; however, it’s important to be realistic. Set fitness and exercise goals, but be flexible… you never know when you might have to run out for some last-minute shopping, and there’s no telling when the holiday party invitations will arrive.