Between pies and cross-country travel, it can be pretty tough to stay active during the holiday season. A cornucopia of family obligations, work parties, and last-minute shopping means that hitting the gym often gets delayed or crossed off the schedule altogether. Not this year! There are 35 days between Thanksgiving and New Years Day, and we’re determined to make the most of them. We’ve come up with 15 smart strategies, tips, tricks, and motivational techniques to make fitness part of the celebration all holiday season long. Read on to learn how to keep up your exercise routine this winter, Christmas cookies be darned.
1. Get out there
Snuggling under the blankets with a mug of hot chocolate is fine and dandy, but it probably won’t help you out in the fitness department. Instead of baking cookies or playing board games, pass the time with an active pursuit like snowshoeing, hiking, or even building snowmen or igloos.
2. Set a challenge
Each year, Runner’s World magazine challenges readers to run every single day (logging at least one mile per day) between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. Pounding the pavement not your style? Create your own challenge, whether it involves trying a new bodyweight exercise every day, testing different yoga poses, or experimenting with an unfamiliar running workout.
3. Make it official
Sign up for a race, competition, or fitness-y vacation like a hiking or bike trip in January or February so you have a good reason (and plenty of motivation) to stay in shape over the holidays.
4. Try feet-first sightseeing
If you’re traveling or going on vacation, explore a new city on foot or bike instead of in a car or by public transportation (weather permitting).
5. Find a workout buddy
Rolling out of bed for a 6 a.m. gym sesh is much harder to skip when you’re one half of a dynamic workout duo. Enlist a fitness-minded friend or family member (especially if you’re traveling) to be your holiday exercise buddy. Encourage each other to lace up the sneakers for pre-dinner workouts and post-shopping trip runs.
6. Treat yourself
No, not to that extra slice of pumpkin pie. If it’s within your budget, indulge in new workout clothing or fitness equipment before Thanksgiving to boost motivation throughout the holiday season.
7. Start a fitness tradition
There are tons of family-friendly holiday-themed running events in most areas. Sign up the whole family (don’t forget the costumes) for a fun, goofy Turkey Trot or Jingle Jog. Before you know it, the annual race will become a family tradition.
8. Include everyone
Working out can often be a solitary activity, which may explain why many people skip the gym when friends and family are in town. Make it a group activity by inviting visitors to join you at the gym or a favorite exercise class.
9. Find a promotion
Many gyms and exercise studios offer deals and specials during the holidays. Do some snooping and sign up if you find a sweet deal. If you’ve recently joined a gym, take advantage of a free consultation with a personal trainer (most fitness facilities offer this perk) to learn some new moves.
10. Act like a kid
Childhood winter favorites like sledding, snowball fights, and ice-skating get the heart pumping. Head outside for a sneaky (and super fun) workout.
11. Be a mall rat
With a mile-long to-do list before the big holiday get-together, there’s just no time for exercise, right? Wrong-o: Simply lace up your sneakers and powerwalk between errands. (This is especially doable at a mall or shopping center.)
12. Cut the rug
Being the first person on the dance floor at the holiday party means you’re A) the coolest person in the room and B) getting your rear in gear.
13. Do some DIYardwork
Whether it’s raking leaves or shoveling snow, yard work is an unexpected way to get the heart rate up and work out major muscle groups.
14. Watch TV
Yep, sometimes hanging out in front of the tube can be good for you. If the weather outside is truly frightful, pop in a workout DVD (or for a cheaper version, pull up a YouTube fitness video) and get sweaty. Or, use TV time to work on mobility and recovery by foam rolling, icing, or stretching out with straps.
15. Work towards a goal
Set a specific, tangible goal to accomplish during the holiday season. There are 35 days between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, which is the perfect amount of time to really nail that push-up form, learn to do Crow pose, or master an 8-minute mile. Or, you know, any other fitness goal that strikes your fancy.