If you spent most of 2018 dedicated to working out, don’t decide to just let that slide now. Research shows that people who regularly exercise and then cut way back on movement for two weeks had not-so-good changes to their cardiovascular fitness, muscle mass, body fat, liver fat, cholesterol, and insulin sensitivity. And if you start back up again—which isn’t always the easiest thing—you may not be able to reverse all of those changes. That said, it can be tough to find the motivation to squeeze in a workout when you’ve got cookies to bake, gifts to wrap, and festive movies to watch. That’s where these tips come in. Keep reading to learn how to keep moving no matter how hectic the holidays get.
Stop thinking it’s all or nothing.
You don’t have to do your normal workout routine—you just have to do something. “People think if they don’t have an hour, they just shouldn’t bother working out,” says Jonathan Ross, personal trainer and creator of Funtensity. “But we don’t do this in any other part of our life.” Think of it this way: If you have to get a project done for work, you take advantage of what free moments you have or make time for it—do the same with working out. Any bit of exercise you can squeeze in has benefits, so grab it when you can.
Tweak your typical routine.
“Be realistic about what you can do and come up with small goals,” says Chris Freytag, personal trainer and founder of Get Healthy U. If you can only work out two or three times the week between Christmas and New Year’s, that’s better than zero.
Squeeze in short workouts.
“People don’t think a 10-minute workout counts, but you can do a lot of work in that time,” says Freytag. “And usually when you do 10 minutes, you keep on going.” Not convinced you have even 10 minutes to spare? Vow to cut 10 minutes out of your social media scrolling and use it burning calories instead. And for inspiration, try this quick routine from Harley Pasternak.
Go for basics.
Pete McCall, author of Smarter Workouts: The Science of Exercise Made Simple recommends EMOMs, which stands for Every Minute On the Minute. Pick three moves, like squats, push ups, and glute/hip bridges, then start a timer. At the top of each minute, you’re going to do 20 reps of one of the moves (you rotate through the moves minute to minute). Whatever time you have left after doing the 20 reps is your chance to rest. Keep going for 15 minutes and you’ll have cycled through the series five times.
Get your family in on the action.
This is especially easy to do if you have kids around. Start a game of tag in the yard, have a push up competition in the basement, or organize a family walk after dinner. “Activity doesn’t have to be planned and structured to count as exercise,” says Ross.
Throw a resistance band in your bag.
Having one with you means you can get creative with strength training moves even if you don’t have access to a gym. “There are a lot of different moves you can do with them and they talk up almost no room in your suitcase,” says McCall. Start with these six moves and go from there.
One of the best ways to be active this time of year is to find physical activities that are a joy to do. Can’t drag yourself to the gym? Go ice skating, snow shoeing, or hiking instead. “There is something out there for everyone that provides the benefits of fitness and that they kind of enjoy,” says Ross. “Need inspiration? Ask yourself what you’ve always thought about doing or what you did when you were younger that you want to do again.”
This article is not intended to substitute for informed medical advice. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.