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10 Ways to Burn Off Holiday Calories

Fall and winter activities can help you balance out those holiday feasts

4. Get on the Ball

When it's too cold to be outside, get bouncy inside -- and strengthen your core muscles -- with exercise balls, recommends Fabio Comana, an exercise physiologist with the American Council on Exercise in San Diego.

Exercise balls, also known as fitness balls and balance balls, are large vinyl balls in various diameters ranging from 18 inches to 3 feet.

Your workout with an exercise ball can be as easy -- and fun -- as sitting on the ball and bouncing lightly to gently work your core muscles (the muscles surrounding your trunk and pelvis). A ball workout can also be pulse-pounding, if you use your ball as a prop for crunches, pushups, leg lifts, or squats.

Too pooped to prop? You can even burn a few calories simply sitting on the ball and working to maintain your balance.

5. Walking Is a Winner

For most of us, walking is the easiest way to burn a few extra calories during busy times.

The trick (after a good warm-up) is to keep your pace strong, says Diane Proud, a running pro at the Cooper Fitness Center in Dallas.

Try power walking, high-stepping, or climbing stadium stairs. According to Proud, such activities fire up major muscle groups like the quads and gluteals.

"Recruiting more muscle fibers during a workout is like stoking a fire ... the embers burn for a longer period," she says.

That means even when you're lounging by the fire later, you'll still be burning away extra calories.

If you keep up a moderate walking pace, expect to burn 250-300 calories hourly.

6. Do a Good Deed

Combine a few of our calorie-burning tips -- shopping, cooking, walking -- and do a good deed in the process.

You can gently increase holiday season activity, says Comana, by making goodies for your neighbors, then taking a brisk stroll around the neighborhood to drop off your homemade gifts.

Or burn about 700 calories an hour participating in a holiday fund-raising race, such as the Arthritis Foundation's Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis, held in various U.S. cities in December.

Locate all kinds of races near you at www.coolrunning.com. Good deeds and a good body -- what a gift!

7. Travel Your Way Trim

When the temptations at home are just too great, escape them by getting away for the holidays, suggests Diane V. Dillard, a home health professional in Port Richey, Fla.: "Get away for a ski trip, go ice-skating -- go do the things you're always wanting to do anyway."

Even getting from here to there provides opportunities to burn calories, says Griffiths.

"If you have to travel, be sure to wheel your own bags, only take what you can carry on, and lift the bags yourself," says Griffiths.

And don't forget to walk, walk, walk. Walk between terminals, take the stairs, stroll between gates while you wait. "Even if you're on the moving walkway -- walk!" Griffiths says.

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