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Holidays and exercise: The best of both worlds.

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A well-packed gym bag can help you fit in workouts.

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Why is it that, "I'll carve the turkey" never falls in the same sentence as, "Just one more lap to go?"

Holidays bring good cheer to the heart and mind, but the importance of exercising should not be lost in the season's hustle and bustle. Andy Fry, fitness expert at Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, offers some general exercise tips for staying active this time of the year.

  • Plan ahead. Because you will be out of your normal exercise routine, Fry cannot stress this tip enough. During holiday seasons, people often are preoccupied with visiting relatives, and thus, have limited time to exercise, or are out of town and away from familiar gyms. The best way around this is to have your days planned out before the hectic holiday season arrives. If you know that you will be in a different city, plan your exercise routines around the gyms and workout facilities they have to offer.
  • Exercise in the mornings. This is the most opportune time to exercise because the majority of your guests or hosts will likely still be asleep. Although it is the holiday and time for relaxation, waking up early in the mornings to exercise will be well worth it.
  • Be active with family. What better way to spend the holidays then to spend time with family? Get your loved ones involved in family activities that both exercise the limbs and increase family together time. One activity can be walking through the park, or through the neighborhood to see holiday lights. If weather does not permit, an activity like indoor rock climbing can be just as fun.
  • Park further away. Holiday shopping is a common practice that can be used as a good way to stay active. Outdoor malls and large shopping centers promote lots of walking, which is done in between shops and stores. Parking farther away from the desired destination enables you to walk greater distances.
  • Pack what you need. "There have been plenty of times that I intended to exercise," said Fry, "only to find out that I had forgotten my running shoes. It's important to pack plenty of gear and have the correct exercise tools you may need." If you don't pack the necessities, he said, you will not be able to exercise.
  • Check gym membership benefits. If you are a member at a gym, look to see if the member benefits are transferrable to gyms located throughout your holiday travels. Also, check to see if you have access to any guest passes. These can be used to bring a family member to exercise with you, while you both are in town for the holidays.

Fry is assistant director for fitness and wellness at the School of HPER's Division of Campus Recreational Sports.

To read more articles from Campus Recreational Sports in the School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, visit