Stay-fit strategies for the holiday season

family-tobogganing

    By Karen Kwan

    You hit the gym regularly. But with the holidays upon us and a steady stream of parties, dinners and Christmas shopping on your calendar, something’s gotta give—and cutting out your workouts for a few weeks is the only way you can make time for everything, right?

    Not so, says Natasha Vani. The director of physical activity of Newtopia says that there are many ways you can enjoy the holiday season and meet your personal obligations while also fitting in fitness.

    First off, while it’s true that there’s no getting out of quality time with the family over the holidays, how about planning some fun physical activities together rather than getting on each other’s nerves cooped up in the house? Vani suggests taking a walk to admire the Christmas lights, skating, tobogganing or skiing. Don’t feel like venturing into the cold outdoors? Go bowling, or stay in and play an active video game such as Nintendo Wii Fit. Bonus: working up a sweat will help you relieve holiday stress.

    Besides getting physical active with the folks, throughout the holiday season you can still fit in workouts by making more efficient use of your time, says Vani. Here are her tips on how to maximize your gym time:

    Aim for two-in-one exercises. For example, instead of simply doing bicep curls, pair each bicep curl with a lunge.

    Ignore the smaller muscles for now, and focus on the large muscle groups, such as your back, chest, glutes and thighs. “These larger muscles burn more calories than smaller muscles, so by doing squats, lunges, chest presses and push ups, you’ll burning more calories in the same amount of time.

    Do circuit training for a more efficient workout. “By switching from one station to another with minimal breaks in between, this type of consistent workout will allow to squeeze in a lot of exercise into the same amount of time.”

    Practice time-saving strategies at the gym. Bring a water bottle with you so you don’t have to wait your turn at the water station, and if the machine you planned to use is occupied, don’t wait–use another machine instead and return to that one later. And instead of scheduling time to stretch, use the time in between sets to stretch.

    Do a whole-body warm-up. If you tend to warm up with a few minutes on a stationary bike (which focuses on your legs), switch to a warm-up that engages your entire body, such as going up and down a flight of stairs.

    Pick up your workout intensity. You can achieve similar results in less time than your usual workout if you take smaller breaks in between sets (see “circuit training” above), use a slightly heavier weight than you’d normally use, or run at a faster pace.

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