The Twelve Ways of Holiday Fitness

We all know that the winter holidays are among the busiest times of the year. Traveling, shopping, family reunions, social gatherings, and other obligations can make staying fit feel like an enormous task. It’s a challenge that many of us fall short on as our bathroom scales will remind us in January. But it doesn’t have to be that way. A slight adjustment in our mindset, and little planning can help make our holiday season truly merry from the inside out. Give yourself the gift of fitness this year with the following twelve tips.

1. Keep Your Goals Modest

Start by writing down a few realistic and concise goals that you would like to achieve over a definitive time period. This is not the time to commit to major undertakings. The primary objective should be to maintain your fitness. For example, if you currently visit the gym five mornings a week then a holiday season goal would be three times. Most of us can maintain a reasonable amount of fitness on three days of exercise a week.

2. Buddy Up

Working out with a friend or partner is always easier than going at it alone. Having someone else will help keep you accountable and make for a more enjoyable workout. If it works out well, you can extend your partnership into the New Year and beyond.

3. Wake Up Early

Set your alarm for an early wake-up, then get out and get it done before the day has a chance to hi-jack your time away. With the holidays being busier than normal, the sooner you complete your workout, the better you’ll feel.

4. Take it Indoors

Winter brings increment weather. Rain, snow, cold temperature, and wind make feasible excuses for missing your usual run or ride. Take shelter indoors by being flexible with your options. Treadmills, stationary bikes or trainers, rowing ergometers and elliptical machines are just a few examples of ways you can exercise indoors. This may be a perfect time to start a strength training routine or join a group exercise class. Do something different; you may discover a new passion

5. Stand When You Can

We expend approximately 50 calories per hour more while standing compared to sitting. This may not seem like much but when you add it up over several hours, days and weeks, it will make a difference. In addition to burning more calories, standing also promotes greater strength, balance and muscle tone. Standing workstations are continuing to gain popularity as new studies reveal the benefits. Take a look around online and see what you can find.

6. Emphasize Quality Over Quantity

Another tip to help you become more efficient is to focus on the quality of your workout instead of the duration. When strapped for time, working at higher heart rate intensity will result in an increased caloric expenditure over a shorter period of time. You’ll get an additional bonus by boosting your aerobic threshold in the process. Here are four workouts you can do to help achieve this.

7. Park Further Away

Finding parking in a crowded mall can be difficult during the holiday shopping season. Consider it a blessing and seek the furthest parking spot away. Walking is one of the best forms of casual exercises we can do. For extra credit, vow to return to the car each time you make a purchase before going back into the store. Brisk walking can also help off-set your hunger desire while passing by the fast-food stands that are so abundant at shopping centers. Using a personal fitness device like the Mio FUSE Heart Rate + Activity Tracker is a great way to keep track of your actual steps and calories.

8. Climb the Stairs

Whenever possible, avoid the escalator and use the stairs instead. Invest a few more minutes and make an extra trip or two, up and down if you can. It’s another opportunity to add steps to your activity tracker (see above).

9. Do Gift Wrap Squats

Stand while wrapping gifts and writing cards (See above number 5 for benefits). Then perform one bending squat each time you tie a bow or write a card. The more gifts you wrap the more squats you do. If only Santa knew about this!

10. Play Holiday Bingo

Make exercise fun for the entire family and your friends by creating a set of holiday bingo cards. Include things that are typically seen around the neighborhood such as specific colors of holiday lights, decorations (reindeer, Santa, nativity sets, sleds, candy canes, etc.). Then grab the whole gang and head out the door for a fun game of bingo. Make your own rules like having everyone do a jumping jack each time a member checks off a bingo marker.

11. Have a Plan for Eating Healthy

Have a clear plan to help combat mindless binging on holiday treats. Eat healthy before you arrive to the party. Avoid hovering next to the food tables whenever possible. Drink water to satisfy your thirst and to control your hunger. At dinner time, fill your plate with vegetables first, before you pile on the higher caloric dense starches and deserts. For more tips on healthy holiday eating, check out Dietician, Dorette Franks’ article, How to Avoid Weight Gain Over the Holidays.

12. Don’t Wait Until the New Year

Get a jumpstart on New Year by beginning your resolution early. Commit to doing an organized race or event to keep you motivated into the spring and summer seasons. Create an action plan that evolves as the holiday season winds down, when you have more time to resume your training.

Written by Duane Franks, Owner and Head Coach of Trifiniti Endurance Performance Coaching. Learn more about Duane and Trifiniti Endurance Perfomance Coaching at

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