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Be Flexible and Mix It Up

Here are some more expert tips for staying fit during the time-crunched, temptation-packed holiday season:

  • Be flexible when your days get busy, Ray advises. Instead of simply blowing off your 5 p.m. trip to the gym in favor of an office party at the same time, wake up an hour early and walk or jog before work. Or fit a brisk walk into your lunch hour.
  • Mix up your routine to avoid boredom. “If you usually run four days a week, try running once, swimming once, and lifting weights twice," Ray says. "The novelty of the new exercise will hopefully be a stronger motivator than the 'need' to do something else during your normal exercise time."
  • To save time, Ray recommends combining exercising and family commitments. For example, hauling the kids up a hill a few times can make a sledding trip as beneficial as a jog. Taking the family snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or on a backpacking trip will provide exercise as well as quality time with loved ones.
  • New York-based exercise physiologist and personal trainer Louis Coraggio advises his clients to book a long weekend getaway at a warm destination for January or February, This will motivate you to keep exercise a priority. When you're tempted to slack off, envision yourself looking good on the beach.
  • Create a holiday wish list for one or more improved body area(s), Coraggio suggests. Expect this to take a certain amount of sacrifice. Keep your discipline constant.
  • Be ready for the mistletoe, says Coraggio. People are attracted to a strong, healthy body. Your confidence will show if you've been keeping up with your eating and exercise habits.
  • Coraggio recommends creating a home workout routine for those times you can't make it to the gym. Crunches, push-ups, and many other exercises can be done without any gym equipment.
  • Increase your time management skills over the holiday season. Organize your day the evening before. Prioritizing your tasks beforehand will help you find time to exercise. Each week, make it a priority to fit in three exercise sessions.
  • Walking is an exercise that can go anywhere, from the woods to the mall, says health and lifestyle coach Jackie Keller, author of Body After Baby: The Simple 30-Day Plan to Lose Your Baby Weight. "Always have a pair of running or walking shoes with you, along with a set of light, hand-held weights, and a clean pair of socks," Keller suggests. "If all else fails, you have the minimum equipment necessary to get in a walk." Another Keller suggestion: add a heavy book to a backpack to make your walk more challenging.

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Ensure you're exercising hard enough to get a good workout, but not strain your heart.

While you are exercising, you should count between...

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Seconds