As the holidays approach and family and friends gather, maintaining a regular exercise program can become more challenging. It is not always critical to go to the gym, but if you do, find a local gym and perform an abbreviated version of your normal workout that includes 20-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise followed by 10 minutes of abdominal strengthening and 10-15 minutes of general stretching. Not only will you feel invigorated, but you will burn those pesky extra calories from your holiday indulgence. Bob Turner, Physical Therapist, offers these other options when a gym is not available:
- Go for a brisk walk with a family member or friend first thing in the morning before the days’ festivities begin. You can jumpstart your metabolism and have some quality one on one time with your favorite loved one.
- Walk instead of taking the subway, taxi or car to complete your shopping or returns.
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator in your building or at the store.
- Volunteer to vacuum the house after the party. Statistics show that a 150 lb. person can burn up to 100 calories with 20 minutes of vacuuming. Adding a few lunges between strokes will burn even more calories and keep the legs toned. Combining household chores with a brisk walk will burn even more calories and keep your heart rate elevated longer.
- Play with the kids! Getting into and out of the floor is a skill that children develop very early but we as adults tend to lose. Instead of sitting on the comfy sofa, sit on the floor to read and play games with the children. If you haven’t done this in a while, it might feel a little uncomfortable at first but sitting in a variety of positions will help maintain range of motion in all of our joints. Often when the elderly fall, they cannot get to the phone because they can no longer get into or out of the floor
- Breathe. It sounds like a no-brainer, but with holiday stresses mounting, we become anxious and breathe very shallowly. Sit in a comfortable position- either on the floor or in a chair if needed. Close your eyes. Listen to the sound of your breath. Practice 4-7-8 breathing: Breathe in for 4 counts. Hold your breath for 7 counts and exhale for 8 counts. They key here is to count very slowly and focus only your breathing. Repeat this 10 times. You will be amazed at how relaxed you will feel!
As we usher in the New Year, making a commitment to your health and fitness is an investment in your long-term health. Turner says, “Exercise not only helps keep our bodies strong, but also improves circulation to the brain which can help with stress reduction and improve sleep. Start small and seek guidance from your medical doctor if you are new to exercising or have any questions on how to begin a new exercise routine.”
Reviewed on August 30, 2018.