Don't Take a Holiday From Fitness

How to stick to your workout routine any time of year.

From the WebMD Archives

Yes, it's easy to slip out of your fitness routine during the holidays. But staying active is key for managing diabetes. Regular exercise can lower your blood sugar levels and improve how your body uses insulin, says Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, a certified diabetes educator and personal trainer.

Try these tips to stick with your exercise program.

Shop and go. Spending hours at the mall? Do double duty with short bursts of exercise. "Take the stairs instead of the elevator, briskly walk from store to store, or perform arm curls with your shopping bags," Palinski-Wade says. Wear a pedometer and give yourself a step-count goal for the trip. 

Plan food-free celebrations. "Don't make food the focus at holiday events," she says. Opt for celebrations that shift the focus away from food and get you moving.

Instead of a dinner with all the trimmings, celebrate the holidays with a recreational event like sledding or biking. Or balance your meal with something healthy. If your family normally gathers for an eating extravaganza, carve out time before or after to take a walk together.

Take it outside. Let the holidays inspire your activity. Love holiday lights? Go for a walk in a neighborhood filled with lights and decorations. Take a hike on snow-covered terrain. Try cross-country skiing. Listen to holiday music as you skate around a local ice rink.

Pencil it in. Make an appointment to exercise every day, and mark it in your calendar. Then schedule your holiday shopping or social events around your workout. When you make exercise a firm commitment, you'll be less likely to push it off.

Try something new. The holidays are anything but routine. Let your exercise program follow suit. Instead of sticking with your usual activities, mix it up. When you're out shopping for everyone else, pick up a fitness DVD for yourself. Download a workout app on your smartphone. Try yoga or tai chi. A new activity can challenge your body and boost your motivation.

Take a pass on perfection. If you don't have time for a full workout, don't bail on exercise altogether. Simply do what you can. Maybe it's the first 10 minutes of your normal routine. Maybe it's a short walk.

Step into the season. Make walking your main activity. Invest in a simple, low-cost pedometer, and try to rack up as many steps as possible, Palinski-Wade says. Aim for 10,000 steps per day. With all the holiday shopping and social events, you may be surprised how quickly you hit your target.

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Fitness Facts

  • Exercise helps lower your blood sugar.
  • Staying active burns calories. That can offset extra helpings of holiday foods.
  • A workout boosts your energy, improves your mood, and helps relieve holiday stress.
  • It also gives you a chance to socialize with friends or make a new one. Schedule time to exercise with someone else -- you're more likely to keep the appointment if a friend is waiting for you.
WebMD Magazine - Feature Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on September 20, 2015

Sources

SOURCES:

Erin Palinski-Wade, RD, CDE, LDN, CPT, registered dietitian, certified personal trainer, certified diabetes educator.

American Academy of Pediatrics: "Turning Family Time into Active Time."

American Council on Exercise: "10 Health Tips for Surviving the Holidays."

American Diabetes Association: "Physical Activity is Important."

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