Get Fit Without the Gym
Learn how to burn off holiday calories without going to the gym
The winter holidays are approaching, families are gathering, feasts are
being cooked -- and pounds are packing on. In the middle of all this good
cheer, which generally requires you to (not always cheerily) race from mall to
airport to grocery store to kitchen in a frenzy of preparation, how can anyone
find time to exercise away the remnants of the turkey (135 calories for two
slices of white meat), pumpkin pie (320 calories a slice) and mashed potatoes
(225 calories a cup)?
If you can't squeeze in a trip to the gym between Aunt Lulu's
arrival and the Cub Scout visit to the tree farm, don't despair. You can still
make the calorie-burning most of many traditional holiday activities, experts
Let's start with holiday shopping. Brisk walking around the
mall -- no wandering, here -- can burn between 3.5 and 7 calories per minute
depending on factors such as your age, metabolism, and weight, says exercise
physiologist Alex Jordan, MS, who runs the exercise laboratory at the Cooper
Aerobics Institute in Dallas. So if you spend two hours scouring the stores for
the perfect sweater, you'll have burned anywhere from 500 to 800 calories. Of
course, sometimes it's hard to walk briskly when the mall seems packed with not
only the entire population of your own city but a dozen or so surrounding
counties, but consider it a bonus: Now you have a slalom course.
You can add to the exercise bonanza of your shopping trip, and
reduce some of your stress, by forgoing the traditional holiday circling of the
close-in parking spaces. Try parking in the farthest row back in the most
distant level of the parking garage, and add five minutes of walking time (and
perhaps a few flights of stairs) to your afternoon.
If you're going over the river and through the international
airport to Grandma's house, here's another opportunity for a little "found
exercise" during the holiday rush. "Don't take the moveable walkways or
trains from concourse to concourse. Walk the whole way," says Suzanne
Henson, MS, RD, coordinator of the EatRight weight management program at the
University of Alabama-Birmingham. A 10-minute walk from security to Gate Z499,
speedily towing your Rollaboard, will burn about 50 calories.
And consider those unavoidable holiday delays an exercise
bonus. "Don't just sit during your layover: Get up and move! I always try
to do that when I fly, and in addition to burning calories, I'm not nearly as
fatigued when I get home as if I were just sitting around the gate for
hours," Henson says. Keep walking through an hour's delay and you've burned
another 250 calories or so!