Exercising Through the Holidays

Wouldn’t it be great to enjoy the holiday season feeling invigorated, rather than stressed and fatigued? Exercising through the holidays will not only help us managed the addition al stressors, but will also put us one step ahead of our health-oriented New Year’s resolutions.

Create some new traditions.

 Instead of the usual baking fest, consider training for an event with your family like the “Turkey Trot” or “Jingle Bell Run.” Having a physical goal in mind such as training for a 5K run will help you to stay on track with your workouts. Even traditional holiday activities such as caroling through the neighborhood on foot or sledding down the town hill will burn calories and keep the heart pumping. You and your family may be delighted with some new activity-based family customs, and not even miss all of the lard and sugar you avoid in the process.

Manage your time.

 If you start holiday shopping early and pre-plan the parties you wish to attend, you’ll not fell as pressured to give up your exercise sessions. Try putting all of your workouts in your planner for the months of November through December and stick to them just as you would any other important appointment. Be firm about keeping that commitment and resolve toward maintaining good health through these notoriously decadent months.

Review your goals and priorities.

Your life has many important parts including family, work, spiritual growth, recreation and health, which can be especially hard to balance around the holiday. Studies have shown that those who take care of their health—specifically through exercise—are better able to take care of others and achieve balance in al areas of their life. Taking a little time for your physical fitness will pay big dividends at this time of year.

Measure your progress.

Knowing your starting point and tracking your improvements throughout the holidays will inspire you to continue. Get out the scale, stopwatch, camera, and measuring tape to record your starting points and create a folder to store your stats, along with workout cards, and personal goals. This will be a good comparison and motivator as you are progressing or if you reach a plateau. Re-evaluate your level of fitness and compare your improvements from today to that of January 1st, 2004. You may be delighted at how much stronger, flexible and fit you are.

Put fitness gear on your holiday list.

If anyone asks what you want this holiday season, politely reply that you would prefer a gift certificate to the gym, a new pair of running shoes, a heart rate monitor, a pair of skiis, or a new workout tape. You will get a lot more mileage from new workout apparel than from anything else.

Take advantage of winter activities.

 If you live in a cold climate, the world is your gym. Consider cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating. If you live in a warm climate, go for a bike ride, walk or swim. Outdoor activities will add to the mental and spiritual dimensions of physical activity and help to keep your holiday anxiety to a minimum.

Sign up for lessons.

If you commit to taking dance lessons throughout the holidays, not only will you have built in some enjoyable exercise time, but you will be able to show off all of your latest moves on New Year’s Eve. You may want to sign up for a winter session of kickboxing, tennis, or swimming.

Choose an activity that you will enjoy and consider singing up fro the follow up course in the spring. You may even be motivated to enter a competition and bring your fitness to a whole new level.

Workout first thing in the morning.

If you complete your workout as your very first task of the day, then there won’t be unexpected obstacles to compete with your workout time. During the holidays there is a greater chance of alternate activities in the evenings, so play ahead by working out first things in you day. Your body will get used to the morning exercise routine, giving you added energy for holiday shopping.

Convenience is a factor.

If you find you don’t have time to go to the gym, break out the workout videos, dust off the home equipment or resort to basics like walking, sit-ups and push-ups. Do what you can to pick up the pace and find creative ways to fit in activity.

Don’t procrastinate!

If you wait until next Monday, they you’ll wait until January are then you’ll wait until spring. Start out with some form of movement until it becomes a habit, and you begin to formalize your plan. You’re far more likely into to slip into patterns of inactivity if you address them ahead of time and are prepared with alternatives. Have a safe, happy and fit holiday season.

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