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17 Stress-Free Ways to Stay Fit This Holiday Season

Need some inspiration to stay in shape between the holiday potlucks, cookie baking, and that third viewing of Home Alone? Then check out this list of heart-pumping holiday activities!
17 Stress-Free Ways to Stay Fit This Holiday Season
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We often gear up to get in shape after the holidays— that’s what New Year’s Resolutions are for, right? And with every holiday moment crammed with food and family, who can find time to put down the eggnog and gear up that exercise intensity? For some Greatist guidance, here’s a list that not only keeps us moving, but celebrates the season, too. We promise it’ll make staying in shape easy as (eating) pie!

Tis’ the Season to Stay Active — Your Action Plan

Photo by Justin Singh

 

1. Lace up those skates. Ice skating is a low-impact sport that improves balance and increases endurance. Hesitant to hit the ice? Join a learn-to-skate program to help keep the slipping n’ sliding to a minimum.

2. Deliver homemade holiday cookies. Work off all those sneaky spoon-licking calories by delivering cookies to neighbors and friends. Plus, earn “Brownie points” for skipping the electric mixer and working the dough with muscle strength alone!

3. Grab the sleds. Sleigh riding isn’t just for kids; soaring through the snow is an adrenaline kick for all ages. And sledding down those hills means climbing back up ‘em— a hidden hill workout! Just beware of rocks and roots in the ground; striking them can lead to injury [1].

4. Unroll the yoga mat. The holidays can be stressful, so practice some yoga to reduce stress while increasing muscle strength and flexibility. Namaste!

5. Slip on some snowshoes. Want to keep up that cardiovascular endurance in any winter wonderland? Then stash the running sneaks and strap on these. For some snowshoeing 411, learn the basics here.

6. Shop ‘til you drop. When holiday shopping, clock in some miles around the mall. Skip escalators and take the stairs, and hang on to those bags rather than dropping them off at the car. (Extra credit for doing bicep curls with purchases!).

7. Make snow angels. When playing in the snow, sneak in a great arm and thigh workout. This wintry pastime is actually an indoor exercise, too!

8. Clip on the skis. Cross-country skiing is great for all fitness levels and poses low-injury risk compared to its downhill cousin. It also works out the whole body: Traversing the terrain with poles takes great upper-body strength [2], while gliding on level, snowy grounds works the legs and lungs.

9. Carry donations to a community center. Round up old winter clothes and take them over to a donation center. You’ll break a sweat walking, while the donations will help others stay warm.

10. Shovel that snow. Skip the snow blower and grab a shovel— 15 minutes is all it takes to get in some moderate physical activity. Beware of slipping though (put salt on the ground), and slowly scoop that snow for a solid arm, shoulder, and back workout. Just be sure to bend those legs to avoid injury.

11. Squeeze in some intervals. Think there’s not enough time to workout? Then opt for interval training, which can burn fat— fast. Try one of these quick treadmill exercises designed for every fitness level!

12. Put fitness on that list. Since gift giving is often a big part of the holidays, hint at presents that will help amp that fitness motivation. Request a new workout wardrobe, a pair of sneaks, or some fun equipment, like a jump rope! 

13. Cut and carry the tree. Celebrating Christmas? Find a tree-cutting farm to chop down and haul away the tree! It’ll take super arm and back strength. Just be sure to pick one that won’t create a fire hazard.

14.Sign up for a Reindeer Run. Many local communities have holiday-themed races with runners dressed in fun, untraditional attire. Sign up with some friends and run like Rudolph to burn off that extra slice of pie.

15. Hit the football field. Bundle up and play some football with friends! Dashing to that end zone is a great way to keep moving, and possibly build muscle, too [3]. Skip the shoulder pads and try no-tackle flag football to steer clear of injury (a total holiday buzz kill).

16. Jazz up the yard. Dressing up the house in lights and decorations is a holiday pastime and a great excuse to spend some quality family time outdoors. Just be careful climbing those ladders— stringing lights on the bushes can also do the trick!

17. Sing out. Spread the holiday cheer with some tunes, since singing has been shown to strengthen lungs, improve mood, and reduce stress [4]. Join a choir, or go caroling around the neighborhood— just remember to bundle up before belting out!

Works Cited +

  1. Sledding-related injuries among children requiring emergency treatment. Ortega H.W., Shields B.J., Smith G.A. Division of Emergency Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics, St Paul, MN. Pediatric Emergency Care, 2005 Dec; 21(12):839-43.
  2. The perceived benefits of singing: findings from preliminary surveys of a university college choral society. Clift S.M., Hancox G. Centre for Health Education and Research, Canterbury Christ Church University College, Canterbury, England. Journal of the Royal Society of Health, 2001 Dec; 121(4):248-56.
  3. Increase in the proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibres by sprint training in males. Jansson E, Esbjornsson M, Holm I, et al. Department of Clinical Physiology, Karolinska Hospital, Stockholm, Sweden. Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, 1990 Nov;140.
  4. Physiological determinants of cross-country ski racing performance. Mahood N.V., Kenefick R.W., Kertzer R, et al. Department of Kinesiology, Exercise Physiological Laboratory, University of New Hampshire, Durham NH. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2001 Aug 33(8) 1379-84.

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