Make good on your busy holiday season by exercising regularly

The holiday season is upon us and with it the increased demands upon our time – holiday shopping, corporate and social get-togethers, family obligations and so on. These holiday obligations will compete for the time you have available to exercise. A quick word for those of you who don’t exercise regularly enough but do wish to increase energy, stamina and strength in order to keep up, stay healthy and enjoy the festive holiday season—move your body vigorously for 10 minutes at a time, three times a day and you will benefit!  I hope you will read this and be inspired to make exercise (an accumulation of 30 minutes per day most days of the week) a part of your holiday schedule.  This will be the greatest gift you give yourself, I promise you that!

The easiest way to fit in your exercise routine is to schedule it and prioritize it.

What if you decided that exercise was the gift you were giving yourself and your family this year?

If you do I encourage you to write it on your gift shopping list (at the top of the list) so that you would remember to prioritize it. You have now made it an actionable goal.  If you need discipline to ensure you ‘show up’ for exercise then set up some accountability for yourself by scheduling it into your calendar as an appointment —attending a Group EXercise class at your local club is one of the easiest and most fun ways to hold yourself accountable.  I know that for myself, I have to make a “date” with exercise to ensure I do it. In addition to teaching fitness classes (where I have to show up), I hired myself a Personal Trainer. I feel a sense of accountability to show up and this is how I get results. Attending classes or working with a Personal Trainer is also a great way to meet people and make new fitness friends who become great supporters.

If you must modify your exercise activities so that you can still fit it in then all you need to do is move some of your exercise activities from the gym to your home (or the mall, so that you can continue to exercise while you shop) and get the house and family ready for the holidays at the same time. 

You can accumulate healthy steps (aim for10,000 per day) by parking your car further away from the store entrance (which saves you time fighting traffic jams), walking briskly up the stairs or escalators to get your shopping done in a timely manner. If you make a plan to go to the gym on your way to the mall versus the other way around, you will be forced to do both more efficiently.  I bet you will even save money because you will less likely have time to wander around. Being more ‘intentional’ (focused) with your workouts (working harder in a shorter period of time) to fit it in between appointments and being physical while you shop will also help you manage your stress and feel less fatigued in the end.

While the kids and family are home around the holidays, make an effort to incorporate physical activities into your day.  Walk the neighborhood or local area park to look at the lights, walk to neighbours' and friends' homes to deliver gifts or visit, play physical games with your kids, plan outdoor activities that require you to move more.  Walking for one hour will help burn on average 500 calories and contribute about 2,500 steps (based on averages). 

Walking vigorously by taking long, purposeful strides with good posture will help you feel energized and happier too.

Try this—stand in front of a large mirror and slouch your shoulders forward and down, drop your chin and let your belly hang out.  Look in the mirror and ask yourself how you feel?  Then do the opposite by standing up proudly with chest lifted, shoulders back, chin up, navel pulled in and buttocks squeezed tight. Notice now how you are feeling.  You will experience your physiology change (for the better) instantly!  I’m guessing too that you feel better.  Not only will standing with good posture make you feel better emotionally, it will help reduce low back pain, and make you feel stronger and improve your energy and stamina for the physical and emotional challenges that you will most likely have to endure this month. 

Do not shop when you are hungry. If you find you have to shop when you are hungry then plan to bring along healthy snacks such as trail mix, a piece of fruit or vegetable sticks that you can nibble on in the car. Keep a bottle of water in your car and drink frequently to quench your thirst and reduce cravings and fatigue. Failure to do this will often result in you eating foods that are high in sugar and which temporary increase your energy levels but which ultimately lead to a sharp decline in your energy level and most likely an increase in weight gain.

Simple choices such as moving more, drinking more water, eating in moderation can not only improve health, but also allow you to take control of your energy, your weight and your stress level. Make good this holiday season and the New Year will greet you favorably.

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