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Get Fit Without the Gym

Learn how to burn off holiday calories without going to the gym

Deck Those Halls continued...

Most housecleaning, Jordan says, fits the "light activity" category and only burns a few calories an hour. But it adds up, and if you're moving furniture to get at those often-neglected areas that only get cleaned when family comes to visit, you're exercising more vigorously. Half an hour of hauling the furniture around to clean the corners or make room for the tree nets you about 210 calories burned.

Outdoor chores around the holidays can really make a dent in your calorie overload. Shoveling the sidewalk burns about 350 calories in just a half hour, while an hour of raking leaves takes off 200 calories. "Don't get the kid next door to do it or use the snow blower or leaf blower," says Jordan. "Pace yourself --don't let a foot of snow stack up on you. Shovel it once you've got three inches on the ground, and go out again after another three inches."

Once your own house sparkles with holiday cheer, many people like to take the kids out to ooh and aah over the lights and decorations around town. Here's a novel idea: walk. "Bundle the kids up and walk around the neighborhood to see the decorations," says Henson. "So often we're in the car, confined, driving around to look at Christmas lights. It's great to get out and move, and you'll get a better view."

Multitasking? Bah, Humbug!

In all your holiday activities, says Henson, try to be "as inefficient as possible." While that may sound like heresy in the age of multitasking, it'll help you to get a little more exercise out of your everyday activities. "When you're carrying in a carload of holiday groceries, incorporate a little more activity by carrying in one or two bags at a time instead of trying to drag them in all at once," Henson says. (Your back will thank you, too!)

"Try to incorporate what we call 'step-losing activities' throughout the day," she explains. That might mean carrying one box of lights or ornaments up from the basement at a time. When you're on the phone to the Butterball Turkey Hotline or calling mom for her yam recipe, use the cordless and walk around the house. Or just hide the remote control and make yourself walk back and forth to change the channels on the television. Every little bit counts!

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Reviewed on October 18, 2004

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