Staying active during the holidays
Squeezing in a workout during the busy holiday season is a challenging task. Two fitness experts from Indiana University's Division of Recreational Sports offer their advice on fitting in exercise during the festivities. Joellan Muyskens is the assistant director for group exercise, and Bryan Stednitz is the assistant director for strength and conditioning.
- Make your holiday activities calorie-burners, Muyskens said. "Much of what we plan for the holiday season revolves around delicious recipes, but you can also enjoy being active with your friends and family during your get-togethers. How about an evening of caroling or ice skating? You could even help each other decorate your houses for the season. Use your holiday shopping as a time to add in extra activity. If you comparison shop at the mall, you can wind up walking several miles! Even wrapping gifts burns some calories, so how about throwing a wrapping party? For New Year's, put on some music and dance."
- Morning workouts are best. Stednitz said that during busy times like the holidays, people have more success sticking to an exercise plan if it's the first thing on their schedule. "Working out first thing in the morning helps you make exercise a priority. During the holidays it can be harder to stick to an evening workout -- you have places to go and people to see and you run out of time. Plus, you're tired after work and want to relax." Stednitz said he relies on a morning workout to get him energized during the winter months. "Exercise and coffee get me rolling in the morning. It's a nice way to start your day."
- Circuit training. When all you have is 30 minutes, look for circuit training facilities or fitness classes, Muyskens said. "Circuit training keeps you moving from one exercise to the next so you can do a lot in a short amount of time. In half an hour you can get a full-body workout. It's a good option for frantic times like the holidays." Check with your local fitness facility for a circuit training room or group exercise classes. Many women's gyms follow a circuit training format based on a 30-minute routine.
- Let yourself off the hook. Put exercise in perspective, Stednitz said. "Staying active is important, but so is spending time with your family and friends. You are going to have those days when you can't make it to the gym. It's not the end of the world if you miss a workout. That's not a healthy way to think." Get the most out of your holiday season by balancing social activities and self-care. "In terms of total well-being, there's room for fitness and for fun."