When the holidays roll around, do you let your exercise regimen slide because you just get too busy? Considering you’re likely drinking more often and eating more rich, heavy foods this time of year, it’s no time at all to be exercising less. Which is why you might focus on interval training during the holiday season.
Interval training is ideal during this season because you can get a good workout completed efficiently—if you can fit in 15 minutes (and surely you can carve out 15 minutes in your day), then you can get a workout done. “If time pressed, sure, a 15-min workout is better than none,” says Vanessa Ast Biller, founding owner of Vastfit in Toronto. To improve overall cardiovascular fitness, however, from which you reap the disease-fighting health benefits, it’s important to sustain longer periods of exercise, 30 minutes or longer, building to three to four times per week, she says. But given the busy season, if all you can commit to 15 minutes, go for it.
What is interval training exactly, though? “It’s any non-continuous, high-intensity cardiovascular activity—such as running or Spinning—followed by intermittent periods of rest, or lower intensity work,” explains Biller.”A ‘Tabata,’ or ‘wind sprints’ are examples of highly effective interval training activities.”
Another factor that makes interval training ideal this month? You can do it with no equipment and in very little space—so you don’t have to waste time getting yourself to the gym or studio. “With a bit of inspiration, interval training can be performed on a yoga mat-sized bit of living room floor with literally zero equipment,” says Biller. She suggests burpees, high knees, mountain climbers, and squat jumps as great full-body exercises you can do. “Take any of these moves and plug them into a four-minute Tabata-style drill: 20 secs on at full tilt; and 10 secs of rest; repeated for eight intervals – and you’ve got a hot four-minute workout,” she says, adding to rest and repeat as necessary.
What to watch out for, though, is cutting corners on your workouts when interval training solo, says Biller. “We are only cheating ourselves when we get lazy and give in before the buzzer stops or our time allocation is complete,” she says. If you know you’ll be guilty of that, you might want to consider having a personal trainer come to your place to keep you on track, or definitely commit to returning to a group class workout once you’re done on the holiday party circuit.